Most of us have been through tough moments in life, and somehow, we can proudly say that we’ve survived. Our instincts can take us a long way, especially when it feels like we are in an impossible situation. Take the story of this young resourceful mother for example: when she and her children found themselves in danger, she had to think fast in order to save their lives. Since she couldn’t use her phone, she thought about something that many of us wouldn't have considered - she ordered pizza. How could that have possibly saved her and her family's lives? It's a story you have to read to believe.
1. Her Boyfriend Completely Lost It
Cheryl Treadway and Ethan Nickerson had been dating for quite a while. It was just another day of Spring in Florida when the 25-year-old mother of three found herself in one of the scariest moments of her life. The morning had been tough, as the couple had been arguing for several hours.
At this point, she was exhausted. But things took a turn when the argument escalated, and Ethan seemed to have completely lost it. Ethan, who was 26-years-old at the time, had grabbed a knife from the kitchen and ghastly threatened to use it on her. Even worse, he began sharpening it right in front of her, leading her to believe that her life was in serious danger.
2. The Kids Were In School
Though she most definitely feared for her own life, she also feared for her children, who were all little and innocent beings. But as she saw the horrible situation unfolding before her eyes, she did her best to keep calm. If not for herself, for her kids.
At that point, Ethan had not only grabbed a knife, but he had also confiscated her phone, making sure that she had no way to call for help. She felt desperate, but for a second she took a breath and relied on the thought that her children were still in school. As she quickly thought about her options, she couldn’t believe that Ethan was so determined to hurt her.
3. Appealing To The Father In Him
At any moment, he could snap and turn at her. She could see in his eyes that he was ready to do some damage, so whatever she was thinking of doing she had to do it fast, otherwise she could lose her life. But the situation was really tough, as she found herself not only with very little resources, but with very little options too.
Ethan had been struggling with drug addiction for a while now, and even though she often pleaded that he sought help, unfortunately, it wasn't that easy with drug addiction. When she realized that nothing she said was helping the situation, she decided to appeal to the father in him.
4. Bringing Their Sons Home
She told him that the boys would soon be done with school, so she needed to head out to go get them. She thought that would help since he did care about his children. In her head, if she saw them and managed to talk to them, he would find some sense. After doing everything in her power to convince him, he finally said yes.
She quickly started getting ready and couldn’t wait to get out of the house, when Ethan came through with a condition. He told her that she could only go out to pick up the kids if he went with her, as he didn’t trust her to go alone.
5. The Situation Got Really Complicated
He knew that if she went alone there was a huge chance that she would alert the police, so he forced her to take him with her. With no other choice, the two of them got in the car and went on the quietest ride of their lives. Now, Cheryl wasn’t only scared for her, she was scared that her kids would be ambushed into the hostage situation.
They picked up the kids, and none of the boys realized what was going on, but Cheryl was terrified. Now it wasn’t just her who was found in a life-threatening situation, it was also her three young boys.
6. Worried That He Would Do Something Crazy
She quickly realized that things had gotten really complicated. She could no longer make a run for it if she saw the opportunity, and without her cell phone, her options were scarce. The more time passed, the more restless she saw Ethan becoming, and she worried that he would do something crazy at any moment.
In order to save herself and her kids, she had to find a way to leave the house, but how would she do it? One misstep could end up badly, so she once more attempted to appeal to the dad in Ethan. She claimed “the kids are hungry”, and finally began to think of a plan.
7. She Had A Plan
As she looked at him, she continued to say, "Let's order a pizza. Let's get them some food." All she hoped for was that he wouldn’t realize how nervous she was and that her request was indeed her big plan. Though she was sure he would say no as the words came out of her mouth, he actually ended up considering her request.
He probably did want the kids to be fed, but he could also very easily be hungry too, especially after holding his girlfriend at knife-point for hours. Again, he made sure that she didn’t do anything without his supervision. If she was going to order pizza, she was going to do it in front of him.
8. Making An Unusual Order
Ethan grabbed Cheryl’s phone and reluctantly handed it to her so she could make the pizza order. He not only required that he was next to her when she made the order but also told her that she had to use the Pizza Hut App and no other. Though it did cross Cheryl’s mind to call the police, she couldn’t risk it.
If Ethan heard her, he could hurt her and her kids badly. So she decided to get creative. As she checked Pizza Hut’s app, her hands were shaking. Little did she know that what she was about to do would have been impossible years before, since people couldn’t easily place an order through a phone app.
9. Getting All The Details
Now that she had the phone, she thought that she could possibly have her way out of the horrible situation. She browsed through the app and realized that there was a comment section in the app where customers could add any further personal information about their order. As soon as she saw it, she knew exactly what she had to do.
Instead of making a request for some extra toppings or for specific changes in her order, Cheryl used the comment section to help her in her hostage situation. She kept looking at Ethan in order to make sure that he couldn’t read or see what she was doing, otherwise, everything would go down the drain.
10. Telling Them To Call The Cops
Cheryl took her time to place the order. She chose the usual toppings and acted as normally as possible in order to not raise any questions from her abusive boyfriend. She ordered a large pepperoni, and then searched for the comments section to add a short message. That message was her only hope at this point.
Her secret message read: "Please help. Get 911 to me. 911hostage help!". As she finished writing it, she thought that no one would ignore such an urgent message. At that point, all she could was hope for the best, and to believe that the people who would read it would her and the severity of the situation seriously.
11. They Weren’t Expecting It
She had no guarantees that her brilliant plan would actually come to fruition and save her life. So she sent the order and waited. When the workers at Pizza Hut got Cheryl’s order and saw the message in the comment section they were instantly taken aback. It was the most unusual situation they had ever experienced at work.
While they discussed what to do, Cheryl remained calm, constantly looking out the window, hoping to see some sort of help coming. Back at Pizza Hut, the branch’s manager, Cindy Hamilton was calling right away. After 28 years of working for the franchise, Cindy had never been in a situation remotely like this one.
12. Cheryl Was Anxiously Waiting
Because the order was so unusual, both Pizza Hut’s staff and the manager continued to analyze it, but knew they had to act quickly. As they did this, Chery’s hostage situation wasn’t getting any better with time, and she grew increasingly worried that she had used her last chance to get some help. Ethan still held the knife and behaved completely out of his mind.
He continued to threaten her and to ensure that she knew that if she tried “anything funny” she would get hurt. So she waited and did her best to not lose hope. Yet, she couldn’t seem to stay calm. She kept thinking that the people at Pizza Hut would think that the message was a prank, kids do orchestrate terrible pranks all the time after all.
13. They Knew It Was Real
She did have something to hold on to though. She had been living in the neighborhood for a while, which meant that this wasn’t the first time she made an order from Pizza Hut. In fact, she had made it so many times that some of the staff at the local branch actually knew her, and ended up recognizing that it was her sending the pleading message.
They believed that if she was asking for help through their app, then the severeness of the situation had to be real. So after some debate they did exactly what she asked them to do, they called 911. In fact, the place’s manager later shared that they, "didn’t even question it, we immediately called 911.”
14. Help Was Coming
Though the situation might have been very different if Cheryl hadn’t been a regular at the restaurant, the truth is that we will never know. As soon as the police were notified of Chery’s hostage situation, they were on their way. The Highland County Sheriff’s Office had gotten the call and was quick to dispatch Lieutenant Curtis Ludden and his deputies to the house. It didn’t take them long to reach Chery’s troubled home.
As soon as they parked their cars, Cheryl saw them. She had been anxiously staring at the window, and could barely believe her eyes when she saw the police cars.
15. A Feeling Of Relief
Help had arrived, and she finally believed that she and her three sons would actually get out of the situation safe. It had been hours since Ethan had her as a hostage. The anxiety that had been building up the whole day slowly started melting away, as soon as she saw the cops walking towards her house.
But as she understood that even though help was coming her way, she still had to get her kids out of the house before Ethan understood what was coming. She knew that if he realized that the cops were there while they were still in the house, he could easily decide to point the knife at them.
16. Being Freed
So Cheryl clung to the only hope she had left and thought of another plan. She couldn’t wait one second, it was now or never. As the cops arrived, they were ready to act and to conduct the rescue operation safely. Their priority was to save the mother and the kids before they dealt with the father. So Cheryl took charge of the situation right away. She grabbed her youngest son and rapidly ran outside.
Once she reached Lt. Ludden, she desperately told him that her other two sons were still inside with her armed boyfriend. As a mother, it was the hardest decision of her life to take only one son, but there was nothing else she could do.
17. Negotiating Through The Ordeal
At this point, she had to leave it to the hands of the police. Although she didn’t realize right away, she eventually learned that they had gotten lucky with the lieutenant that had been appointed to the case. He was a hostage negotiator with decades of experience, and was her best hope to convince Ethan to let her children go.
With his brilliant track record, Lt. Ludden knew exactly what to do in that situation. He had gone through tons of similar cases, many that were much worse, and had been able to save many families. So he was confident that he could resolve the ordeal in no time, which gave Cheryl a lot of hope - but nothing was certain, and she'd never forgive herself if something happened to her kids.
18. Starting A Difficult Talk
Once they ensured that Cheryl and her youngest son were completely safe, the police began the operation. They knew that they had to approach Ethan with caution since he was holding his two sons at knifepoint after all. Quickly, Lt. Ludden took complete control of the situation and started doing what he knows best.
From beginning to end, the entire conversation took twenty hard minutes. Lt. Ludden had managed to convince Ethan to drop the knife and to hand himself to the police. Finally, the ordeal was finished. Cheryl’s kids were recovered safely and were instantly reunited with their mother. She could barely believe that the nightmare was over.
19. Cheryl Was Praised All Over
After Ethan surrendered himself to the police and the children were reunited with their mother, things started looking much better for the family. But it’s impossible to forget how swiftly and calmly Cheryl acted in order to save herself and her children. Though the staff at Pizza Hut and the police had done an incredible job, it was thanks to Cheryl that the family was now safe.
In fact, her quick and creative thinking had been so impressive that the police had to praise her. Lt. Ludden later said, "I don't know if I ever would have thought of it”. He continued to say that she had thought about the solution so naturally, it was incredibly impressive.
20. A Happy Ending
Thanks to her quick thinking, her boyfriend could have never known that she had found a way to call the police. In addition to getting tons of praise from the police and the local community, she also gotten some messages from the local Pizza Hut restaurant that had called 911. The branch’s manager claimed that Cheryl had definitely been “the hero in this situation.”
She had managed to think outside the box while being under an unthinkable amount of pressure. In fact, Cheryl showed the world that a mother’s love can do the impossible if the goal is to save her kids from a dangerous and life-threatening situation.