A waitress saved a boy from unbelievable “torture” after spotting something strange as a family sat at one of her tables. Thanks to her scrutiny, quick thinking, and ingenuity, the child was rescued from a horror that “shocks your soul,” according to authorities.
Flavaine Carvalho was working on her day off at Mrs. Potato restaurant in Orlando, Florida when a boy came into the popular eatery with his family. The child took a seat in a chair against a wall with his back to the door as two adults, presumed to be his parents, sat across from him at the table. As the Florida waitress went to take the family’s order, something seemed very off.
Although the couple had two children with them — the boy in question and a younger girl — they only ordered one kid’s meal. When asked whether the couple wanted a second kid’s meal, they responded with a “no,” explaining that the boy would eat at home. That was Carvalho’s first indication that something wasn’t right.
The boy, who was just 11 years old, was not only forbidden from ordering anything to eat, but his father wouldn’t let him have any water either, the waitress said. Noticing that the boy wasn’t eating with the rest of his family, Carvalho asked if there was a problem with the food, but she said his parents just waved her away, according to The Blaze.
That’s when Carvalho took a closer look and realized something was definitely wrong. The waitress noticed bruises on the 11-year-old’s face and arms, and she knew she needed to do something. She quickly concocted a plan, grabbed a piece of cardboard, and scrawled a message on it. Carvalho then stood behind the boy’s parents and held it up for him to read, making sure the adults couldn’t see her as they ate.
“Do you need help? OK,” the message read. It took three tries, according to ABC 11, but eventually, the child signaled to the waitress that he did need help. Carvalho quickly called the police, who responded to the scene and questioned the 11-year-old boy. What they learned led to the arrest of the two adults with him, who were identified as his mother, Kristen Swann, and his stepfather, Timothy Wilson II.
“What this child had gone through, it was torture,” Detective Erin Lawler said in a news conference, according to Fox 10. “Seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul,” Lawler added, explaining, “He said ratchet straps were tied around his ankles and neck, and he was hung upside down from a door.”
According to the detective, the 11-year-old boy said his stepfather also beat him, hitting him with his fists, a wooden broom, and a back scratcher. He was often made to go without food as a form of punishment too. “He said he was hit with a wooden broom, and handcuffed and tied to a large moving dolly,” Lawler recalled. “He also said he didn’t get to eat on a regular basis as punishment.” As a result of the alleged “punishment,” the boy was 20 pounds underweight, but it could have been much worse.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said that the alleged child abuse could have become a “homicide situation” if Carvalho had not intervened. Thanks to the observant waitress, who’s since been hailed a hero, it didn’t come to that. Her concern and quick-thinking saved both children from such a fate, and the adults accused of the abuse were arrested. Kristen Swann was charged with two counts of child neglect, while Timothy Wilson II was charged with third-degree child abuse.
The brave waitress says the little boy is the real hero. “I would like to give him a big hug, and tell him that I’m so proud of him,” she said. Make no mistake, however, Flavaine Carvalho deserves credit for helping save the boy from what police called a “dangerous abuse” situation. Where others might have looked the other way, the Florida waitress chose not to ignore the red flags.
For that reason, the owner of the restaurant, Rafaela Cabede, also gives thanks to a higher power that seemed to be in play. Not only did the family sit at the only table in the restaurant where Carvalho could hold the sign up to the boy without the rest of his family seeing it, but they were also the last table of the night, allowing Carvalho to pay more attention to them. If that’s not enough to give you chills, Carvalho was also supposed to be off that fateful day.
When another employee called out, however, Flavaine Carvalho picked up the shift — putting the right person in the right place at the right time. Both Cabede and Rolon hope that Carvalho’s courage will inspire others to act when we see something that isn’t right. After all, it could save the life of a child.
“We understand that this has to encourage other people that when you see something, say something,” Cabede said. “We know when we see a situation that is wrong, we know what’s the right thing to do. We know that speaking up is the right thing to do. But it takes more than acknowledging it. It takes courage.”