Days before Halloween in 1995, Janette Fennell, her husband Greig, and their 9-month-old son Alex arrived home from a night out with friends. After pulling into the garage of their San Francisco home, they were confronted by two armed men who forced the couple at gunpoint into the trunk of the Fennell’s car and drove away.

During the several-hour ordeal, which the family survived, both Janette and Greig believed that Alex was still in the backseat of the car in his car seat were they had left him.

Fennell2The carjackers were never caught, but Janette and her husband continued to drive the car (pictured at left in a 1999 photo with Alex and his younger brother, Noah, sitting with their parents on the trunk) they were kidnapped in for several years.

Alex, now in college, sat down for StoryCorps with his mom to talk about the experience.

Janette went on to devote herself to improving car safety by founding a nonprofit that lobbies for car safety reform. Due to her efforts, emergency trunk releases are now standard equipment on all new cars. She has also worked on legislation requiring child safe windows and rear view cameras on all cars.

Originally aired October 23, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photos courtesy of Janette Fennell.