What started out as a quiet Monday for Candy Hamilton and the Pizza Hut team in Avon Park, FL quickly turned into crisis averted. Candy was outside doing some cleaning during a lull between the lunch and dinner rushes. A server came out and said that one of the cooks, Alonia Hawk, urgently needed Candy for something. When she came in, Alonia pointed to an online order ticket for a large, hand-tossed pepperoni pizza with a note at the bottom.
The customer had written, “911hostage help!” in the custom order field. Candy didn’t for wait for one second to take action. “I’ve worked here for 28 years and we’ve never had a prank like that before. I instantly went over to call 911. At no point did it occur to us that it might not be a legitimate threat.” Candy’s quick thinking to alert the Highland County Sheriff’s Office meant that officers were able to respond to the scene and bring the customer, Cheryl Treadway, and her children, to safety.
With no idea of the danger they’d averted, Candy, Alonia, and the team went back to business as usual, for a second. After placing the 911 call, Candy says she realized that Cheryl had been a repeat customer, often asking for delivery through the online ordering system—and not once had she ever written comments to customize her order. Candy says at that moment, it sunk in for her that something was probably really wrong. “When I first started working here [28 years ago], we didn’t have the ability for someone to order online. For her [Cheryl] to think on her feet like that, and figure out how to get out a note for help—she’s the hero to me.”
The police came by later to tell Candy and the team what had happened, and to reassure them that their quick thinking had led to a safe resolution to the family’s crisis. It’s a true testament to our team in Avon Park that they were able to recognize the severity of the dangerous situation unfolding – we’re so proud of Candy and her team for their quick thinking, and that the crisis was resolved without harm to Cheryl and her children!