As the orders pour in, workers at the Florida Pizza Hut work like crazy, kneading dough, spreading sauce, and drizzling toppings. They are so immersed in their tasty creations that they almost don’t spot a peculiar detail concealed in an order. But when it catches their eye, it sends them scrambling to call the authorities.
The pizza makers first saw a pretty average request appear in the system: one large pepperoni pizza with garlic sauce for dunking. As they began to work on the order, they checked for special requests and stopped dead in their tracks. Was this a bad prank? It couldn’t be. The order had come from a regular customer after all. Her name was Cheryl Treadway.
Cheryl Treadway couldn’t have been happier with the life she had carved out for herself. The 25-year-old mother of three lived with her boyfriend Ethan Nickerson in Florida, where the family enjoyed life under the warm sun nearly all year-round. Cheryl loved Ethan, but it was her kids who truly kept her going.
Any parent would be proud to raise three beautiful sons like these. They were well-behaved and absolutely adored Cheryl. While they also loved their father, Ethan sadly struggled with drug addiction, which caused occasional outbursts and dangerously irrational behavior. Cheryl was always fearful that, at some point, the kids would find themselves stuck in the middle of a violent incident — and sure enough, that’s what happened.
Cheryl knew Ethan loved his children more than anything. But he was in the throes of a serious drug problem, and the substances completely took his ability to process reality in a calm and rational way. One spring afternoon, Cheryl and Ethan got into a particularly heated argument while he was under the influence.
Thankfully, the heated incident began while the children were at school. As the argument grew more intense, Ethan snatched Cheryl’s phone out of her hand. His eyes were filled with inebriated rage, and Cheryl feared for her safety. Then, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen. Cheryl now knew the situation was life-threatening, and she needed to find a way out.
Cheryl felt relief that her children weren’t there to see their father brandishing a knife at their mom. But the school day was ending and she was going to have to pick them up soon. Ethan knew full-well that if he let her take the drive alone she might seek help, or run. So he hopped right in the car with her.
What followed was the most uncomfortable trip of Cheryl’s life. She stared out at the road in a daze while Ethan sat next to her, glaring violently at her face. She wanted to cry out to passing cars, but she knew Ethan was ready to lash out at a moment’s notice. The couple arrived to the school, picked up the kids, and returned home. The kids had no idea what was unfolding, but Cheryl soon started plotting their escape.
First, she worked with what she knew: her kids were hungry after a full day at school. Cheryl saw this as her opportunity to reach out to someone outside of the home. And there was one place in particular she knew the kids loved…
Like most children, her kids loved pizza. They were regular customers at Pizza Hut, so Ethan didn’t find it odd when Cheryl suggested they order their usual meal. Ethan, however, kept a close watch on Cheryl as she ordered the food, ensuring she didn’t pull a fast one and call somebody for help.
As Cheryl finished their order, the kids were still completely oblivious to the tension in the house. But she knew that Ethan could change that at any moment. The mother anxiously waited for the restaurant to receive her order and send a delivery driver to the house.
Their local Pizza Hut was one of the busiest restaurants in town. But Cheryl was a regular, so the workers recognized her name. They knew to put extra care into ensuring her pizza was perfect. But then, they came to a sudden halt when they noticed something alarming on the order ticket.
Every ticket had an area where customers could write special requests. Usually, these wishes went along the lines of: “extra pepperoni please” or “pizza well done.” But Cheryl’s ticket was a little different and was something workers could not ignore. She had written, “Please help. Get 911 to me. 911hostage help.”
On shift was Candy Hamilton, the branch manager with 28 years of Pizza Hut experience under her belt. When shown the ticket, she didn’t hesitate to act. She knew Cheryl well – and this was no prank. Immediately, she phoned the authorities and gave them the address. Hamilton only hoped she had acted before something horrific happened.
Cheryl’s anxiety was through the roof. Would the Pizza Hut employees pay attention to the words she wrote? Would they think it was a prank? It seemed like a lifetime passed as she and Ethan sat in silence. Suddenly, a horde of police vehicles pulled up out front. Ethan hadn’t spotted them yet – and Cheryl knew once he did, he might physically hurt any one of them.
The police, having no idea what kind of situation they were walking into, couldn’t just barge into the home. But, they knew there was the possibility of kids involved based on what the Pizza Hut manager told them about the family, so their tactics required extreme precision. Suddenly, Cheryl burst out of the home in a frenzy.
Cheryl flung open the front door of her home and sprinted towards the police cruisers with her youngest child in her arms. In her frenetic state, she figured the youngest of her sons was the most helpless. Since she could only take one with her, she grabbed him and fled to the officers.
The first officer Cheryl reached was Lt. Ludden, and he immediately knew by her demeanor that the situation the unit was about to enter was dire. He did his best to calm the mother and ask for details. Once he learned there were still two children inside along with an armed man on drugs, he took immediate action. There was absolutely no time to spare.
Fortunately, Lt. Ludden had been in similar situations many times throughout his career. He knew exactly how to deal with circumstances that required de-escalating in order to avoid a potentially lethal outcome. Cheryl stood by with a horrified look on her face as police spoke with Ethan. Then, 20 minutes later, a miracle happened.
Ethan not only put down the knife he was swinging around recklessly, but he actually walked out to the police units and gave himself up. It was the best possible outcome for everyone involved. Cheryl and her kids, although quite shaken by everything, were finally safe. The incredible series of events was soon picked up by the news.
Ethan’s face was quickly plastered all over the news, and Candy Hamilton of Pizza Hut was recognized for her quick thinking. In food service, things only stay calm for so long, however. At a neighboring fast-food chain, a similar emergency turned everyone’s attention to a different issue. This time, a Chick-fil-A employee heard a strange cry through the drive-thru window and was forced to intervene.
While manager Logan Simmons was well versed in Chick-fil-A’s customer service practices, nothing could have prepared him for what would unfold that day. Little did he know that his dramatic interaction with a mother and her child would stay with him forever.
Logan was standing in the kitchen preparing for the dinner rush when a car pulled up to the drive-thru window. Something was different about these customers, though. This car wasn’t full of hungry customers demanding some fresh chicken sandwiches. It was much more serious.
Logan could see a woman driving the car and a small child fidgeting in the back. The pair seemed to be communicating with each other, but the conversation seemed very frantic. Something strange was going on.
See, even with limited context, the employees could tell the child wasn’t asking for soda or pleading for a kids’ meal complete with a toy. Whatever he wanted, his mother wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.
In the middle of this interaction, she pulled up to the drive-thru window to speak to the employees. That’s why her situation became clear: instead of wanting a soda or chicken, she and her son needed help — and quickly.
Somehow, the boy had gotten tangled in his seat belt and was struggling to breathe. Even worse, like a desperate animal, his frantic attempts to free himself were actually tightening the belt around his neck!
The panicked woman was hoping that someone in the restaurant would be able to save her child, but the workers were stunned. Saving a little boy was a little different to frying chicken and serving drinks. Logan was shocked as he saw this all unfolding.
“You could see [the boy] struggling and it getting tighter and tighter,” Logan said. “He was turning red and losing pigmentation in his face.” The manager knew that whoever they were, someone had to act quickly.
There was an issue, however: location. Logan was in the kitchen with the rest of his team, while the boy was struggling in a car outside the restaurant. If Logan ran out the front door, it would be too late.
So, Logan sprung into action… literally. He took a step back to brace himself and then climbed through the drive-thru window. It was a tight squeeze, but afterward, he was standing in front of the car.
Chick-fil-A employees frequently go above and beyond, but asking Logan to save a life was bigger than anything taught in the employee handbook. Still, the child was struggling, so in a moment of desperation, Logan asked the woman for permission to do something crazy.
Logan quickly grabbed for his trusty pocket knife. He hacked and sawed at the belt, but it proved sturdy — it was tough to cut through. He kept at it, cutting for seconds that surely felt like hours.
“I cut it down and he laid back in the seat, and I was immediately like, ‘Hey, are you OK,’” Logan told the Gainesville Times. “He was crying then, and I knew he was breathing perfectly fine if he could cry.” Phew…
Logan’s quick thinking didn’t go unnoticed. “I’m amazed he didn’t panic,” his mother, Teri, explained. “As his mother, I would have panicked. I’d be running around going ‘oh my gosh, what do we do?'” Logan, however, had an unexpected response.
Rather than accept his new fame, Logan was quick to deflect it. While he had done something amazing, he hadn’t done it seeking fame or a TV interview. His main concern was something bigger…
Ever the manager, Logan was mainly concerned with keeping everyone safe.”I’m just so thankful everyone is okay,” he told USA Today. “I’m still a little shocked by what happened but am grateful I was able to help.” A humble hero!
Despite that sentiment, Logan was still being hailed as a hero. And while locals didn’t gather to watch him soar across the sky, his actions did bring more attention than he was prepared to handle…
As well as all of the press coverage, people were cheering and shouting his name out in the streets, too! Some locals have even visited the restaurant for a chance to thank him in person.
As word about his heroics spread, Logan’s admirers put together a fundraiser for him. They hoped to raise enough money for Logan to buy his own car, which would go a long way in helping him lock down a career in real estate! He’s got another plan to help him out first, though…
In light of recent events, Logan is considering asking for a well-deserved raise. And while Chick-fil-A didn’t train him on how to save lives, he’s definitely taken customer service to a whole new level!