Thousands raised for Florida restaurant manager who saved boy from abusive home
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A restaurant manager whose intuition told her that a child was in danger has received a huge tip for helping save the boy from an abusive home.
Flaviane Carvalho has been praised as a hero for acting quickly to intervene at Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando, Fla. on New Year's Day. The server and manager suspected something was amiss when a family of four sat down for a meal, and the young boy didn't order anything.
Noticing bruises and scratches on the 11-year-old’s face and arms, she discreetly flashed the boy a sign – out of the parents' view – asking if he was OK. The child nodded yes, but she wasn't convinced. Carvalho tried again, writing "Do you need help? OK" and the boy signaled he did, prompting her to call 911.
Flaviane Carvalho recalls how she helped save an 11-year-old boy from an alleged abusive home. (Oralndo Police Department)
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WESH reports that Mrs. Potato Restaurant has since been flooded with support after the story made national headlines, and restaurant owner Rafaela Cabede has created a fundraiser benefitting Carvalho to say thanks. To date, over $38,000 has been raised from 1,100 donors, smashing an initial goal of $10,000 on GoFundMe.
Now, the waitress and manager said she plans to spend some of the windfall on debts accumulated during coronavirus closures, and also give some to her daughters. Paying it forward, Carvalho said she hopes to start a foundation for children in need, too.
A waitress at a Florida restaurant helped save an 11-year-old boy from an abused home, police said. (Orlando Police Department)
Local police said that the rescued boy is doing well, and has already began gaining weight. Following his initial hospitalization, doctors determined that the boy was 20 pounds underweight, and suffering from severe injuries. Police further detailed that child was subjected to various forms of abuse, including being forced to do planks for 30 minutes at a time. He would be beaten if he failed, they said.
"In the opinion of the lead investigator, that child was destined to be killed," said a police spokesperson.
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There was no evidence of abuse on a young girl, age 4, also dining with the family. Authorities suspect the boy was targeted by his stepfather, Timothy Wilson II, because he is not his biological child.
The Florida Department of Children and Families has since removed both children from the home of Wilson and Kristen Swann, their mother. Wilson was arrested on suspicion of third-degree child abuse. He was arrested a second time on Jan. 6 and charged with several counts of aggravated child abuse and neglect.
Swann admitted to knowing about the alleged abuse, but failed to seek medical care, authorities said. She faces two counts of child neglect.
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In a new interview, Carvalho said she simply did what was right, and called the child the true hero of the story.
"I would like to give the boy a big hug, hold him tight and tell him that I'm so proud of him. He was so brave," Carvalho told the Daily Mail on Monday. "The little boy was so brave. He not only saved himself, he saved his little sister by standing up to this man. I am so proud of him. He is the hero."
"It was an act of God that he was sitting in the only seat in the restaurant where I could show him the note without his parents seeing."
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.