METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) – A mother, daughter and granddaughter are lucky to be alive following an attempted carjacking.

It happened Friday night at the corner of West Esplanade and Dreyfous avenues.

Around 7:15 p.m., Julie Pursell picked her daughter, Megan Stewart, up from work. Stewart’s two-year-old daughter Phoenix was also inside the car.

Nearby home surveillance footage shows the moment the suspect, 28-year-old Donovan Melancon, yelled for help while attempting to flag their car down.

The women say they were forced to make a full stop at Dreyfous Avenue because of oncoming traffic on West Esplanade Avenue.

Melancon allegedly squeezed his hand into a window and then unlocked Pursell’s door.

“Then, he proceeded to jump in, attacking me, and I’m fighting him off, trying to keep control of the vehicle,” Pursell recounted.

Stewart says she noticed Melancon didn’t have any weapons on him, so she began fighting him off her mother.

“I was going to fight back because if we would have given him control of the vehicle, I would be in the passenger seat, [and] my daughter would be in the backseat,” Stewart said. “There’s no resolution in that.”

Pursell says her instinct told her to veer her vehicle away from the nearby canal where she says her car was headed before she tumbled out onto West Esplanade Avenue on top of Melancon.

“He was not going to get me out that vehicle and sit in that driver’s seat and throw me out,” Pursell said. “My family is important to me. I love my family, and I was going to die for my family. I mean, I wanted to make sure my granddaughter and my daughter were safe.”

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputies say Melancon then swam across the canal and hid in the attic of a vacant house on West Esplanade Avenue, which is where deputies apprehended him.

“I knew JPSO was fully capable, but they just made my whole night and a whole week with that, and probably the rest of my year, for taking him into custody,” Stewart said.

Pursell and Stewart sustained minor injuries, and Phoenix was not injured; however, Stewart’s car was totaled. If you would like to help the family with expenses, click here.

Melancon was booked into jail with one count of attempted carjacking and one count of simple burglary. His bond was set at about $75,000.

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