An Orlando Restaurant Manager Who Rescued Boy ‘Tortured’ By Step-Father Is Being Honored With An Award
Updated March 4, 2021
The tragic story of Gabriel Fernandez, an eight-year-old boy who was abused and tortured by his own family members made headlines last year when his story was created into a Netflix documentary. The six-part crime documentary detailed how Fernandez’s murder came about due to local government failure and was a reminder that we all have a responsibility to keep our eyes out for victims.
In January an Orlando waitress gained national attention for doing just that.
Flavaine Carvalho saved a child abuse victim after spotting bruises on the boy’s face and arms.
Carvalho (who works as a waitress at Mrs. Potato restaurant in Orlando, Florida) was on the clock on New Year’s Day serving a family that had walked into the restaurant when she noticed their 11-year-old boy. Realizing that the boy had nothing to eat, Carvalho asked if there was something wrong with the food. The boy’s stepfather explained that the boy would eat dinner at home later. It was then that Carvalho noticed bruises on the boy’s face and arms.
“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho explained in a press conference to FOX 35. “Couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”
It was then that Carvalho said she knew that she had to do something. “I could not see the boy going away without any help,” she explained.
The Orlando restaurant manager who saved the young boy was given special recognition.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings presented Carvalho with the Mayor’s Distinguished Resident Award at a commission meeting.
“The award is presented in recognition of your courageous efforts to identify and report child abuse to local law enforcement authorities,” Demings explained at the ceremony. At the time, Carvalho reminded everyone to speak if something happens.
“Do what you need to do to help a kid.”
Coming up with a plan, Carvalho wrote a large note to the boy that read “Do you need help?”
The waitress stood behind the boy’s parents so that they couldn’t see and held up the sign for the boy. When he nodded, Carvalho immediately called the police.
According to the 911 call, Carvalho told the dispatcher “I’m super concerned and I don’t know what to do, can you give me some advice?” Carvalho said to the dispatcher. “The boy is with bruises and he’s not eating.”
After authorities arrived, they interviewed the boy, who accused his stepfather of abuse, saying that he been tied up, hung from a door, hit with a broom, and handcuffed. The boy also said that his parents kept food from him as punishment.
Police claimed that the doctors who examined the boy said that they found bruises on his face and arms and said that he was approximately 20 pounds underweight.
Police confirmed that the boy’s stepfather has been charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect. The boy’s mother has been charged with two counts of child neglect and admitted to knowing about the abuse and failing to help him.
The boy and another 4-year-old child were fortunately removed from the home and are now in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Police on the case have described the experience that the child endured as “torture.”
“To be honest what this child had gone through was torture,” Detective Erin Lawler told WFTV9. “There was no justification for it in any realm of the world. I’m a mother and seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul.”
The abusive parents have now been identified as the boy’s stepfather, Timothy Wilson II, 34, and the boy’s mother Kristen Swann.
“The lesson here for all of us is to recognize when we see something that isn’t right to act on it… This saved the life of a child,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said of the incident.
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