A fast-thinking and technologically savvy mother was able to successfully get her and her kids out of a hostage situation by sending a message for help through her Pizza Hut app.
Cheryl Treadway, 25, was allegedly being held at knife point in her home by Ethan Nickerson, 26, in Avon Park on Monday, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News today.
“She was held hostage by him all day,” Public Information Officer Nell Hays said.
Nickerson took away Treadway’s phone, police said, but she was eventually able to persuade him to let her order a pizza using her Pizza Hut app.
“She told him, ‘The kids are hungry. Let’s order a pizza. Let’s get them some food,'” Hays said, noting that’s when Treadway was able to sneak in a written message through the delivery.
Along with her order of a small, classic pepperoni pizza, she wrote: “Please help. Get 911 to me,” according to police. She also wrote: “911hostage help!”
Pizza Hut employees notified the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, who then went to the woman’s home.
“I’ve been with the company for 28 years and I’ve never seen nothing like that ever,” Pizza Hut Manager Candy Hamilton told ABC News today. “We didn’t even question it, we immediately called 911.”
Deputies and Lt. Curtis Ludden arrived on the scene, and Treadway was able to escape with one child. Her two other children were left in the house, police said.
“Lt. Ludden happens to be a negotiator and is the head of our crisis negotiator team,” Hays said. “He just happened to be the one on duty that night.”
Lt. Ludden was then able to talk Nickerson into coming outside peacefully, Hays said.
Nickerson is facing charges including aggravated assault with a weapon, battery, kidnapping and obstruction of justice. He is being held on a $45,000 bond.
“[Treadway is] the hero in this situation,” Hamilton said. “She just thought outside the box. … I think that’s amazing. I’m just blown away.”