Group behind hand signal that rescued teen in Laurel County says response has been amazing

Kentucky

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – A Canadian organization started the hand signals a North Carolina teen was using before she was rescued in Laurel County.

Deputies said someone called 911 saying they saw a girl giving the signal as the car she was in drove down I-75 south Thursday afternoon. The caller stayed on with dispatchers as they followed the car and approached the London exit where deputies stopped the car.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation launched “the Signal for Help” campaign in April of last year amid a spike in cases of domestic violence. They were hopeful the campaign would be successful, and in the days since our first story about it aired, the interest and education behind the signals have surged.

“It really speaks to the power of this signal and the idea that we need to have something to help us make sure that people are safe,” said Andrea Gunraj with the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

The foundation is credited for launching the signal for help. The video spread to TikTok which is where deputies said the teen saw it.

“What is so wonderful is seeing people respond to it, know it, share it, want to learn more. It speaks to me that we know this violence is happening,” Gunraj said.

The foundation said they’ve gotten many requests to talk about their mission and the hand signal.

“I’m really glad to see the positive response. I think we have to make sure that it’s not just in this moment when we’re talking about this particular story, but we actually make it broader, and we speak about it into the future,” Gunraj said.

But now that the signal is so well known, does this mean there has to be a new one? The foundation said not necessarily because they’re able to have broader conversations about noticing different signs of help.

You might just see somebody be uncomfortable or look silenced or look upset. Maybe hint at things but not be able to say, “I’m being hurt right now,” or “I’m scared right now,” but you can sense it.

Andrea Gunraj with the Canadian Women’s Foundation

We spoke on the phone to David Isaacs Monday night, the man who made the 911 call. He’s from Berea.

Isaacs said while he didn’t immediately know what the hand signals meant, he knew the girl was in trouble because it looked like she was mouthing, “help me.” He said he’s not the hero in the situation and credits the deputies who responded.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is working on a signal response guide for later this month with examples of signs and signals.

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