Shaking Woman Begs for Help, Clerk Hides Her in Bathroom as Kidnappers Enter Store


I don’t find myself frightened by stories of werewolves, ghouls, zombies, or various things that go bump, squish, or squelch in the night. After all, such terrors are imaginary and pose no real threat to anyone.

But dispassionate news accounts of home invasions or kidnappings? Those chill me to my marrow.

I have a hard time imagining anything more terrifying than having your basic agency taken away, your ability to determine where you’ll go and when you’ll go there. That’s why I was so thankful to see reports out of Waterford, California, about how one store clerk help magnificently thwart a kidnapping.

Savannah Pritchett’s job isn’t usually exciting. A clerk at a Central California Triple R Gas and Mart, she spends most of her shift making change, taking stock of in-store goods, and cleaning bathrooms.

But a bathroom stop by a customer on July 11 soon turned into a life-or-death matter. That customer was a young woman — and she was shaking with fear.

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“The first thing she told me was: ‘I was kidnapped and they have guns. Please lock the door. They will kill us or kill me,’” Pritchett told KRCA.

The kidnapping victim had pulled an old trick, but an effective one: She’d told her assailants that she needed to use the restroom.

If I had stood in Pritchett’s shoes, I suspect that I would’ve frozen on the spot. That would’ve led to a very bad end for everyone except the kidnappers.

But instead of being rooted into shocked immobility, Pritchett sprang into action. First, the clerk locked the front door to the store.

Then she guided the woman, who explained that she’d been kidnapped and sexually assaulted, into a bathroom. Pritchett also slipped a phone into her hand and locked the bathroom door.

Finally, she unlatched the front door and stood behind the counter as though nothing in the world was wrong. That last move might’ve been her smartest.

“I knew that if I left the door locked they would have caught on to something and probably took off,” she said to KGO. “They seriously had no idea that I knew anything.”

Her cool demeanor proved the kidnappers’ downfall. Within minutes, armed police stormed the Triple R Gas and Mart.

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They soon had captured four kidnappers, all of whom had ties to local gangs. The kidnappers will face trial for (among other things) armed robbery, sexual assault, and kidnapping.

Pritchett has refused to describe herself as a hero. “I’m very thankful that I got to help that girl, and I am very thankful that she’s home safe with her family, and now I’m happy that they got those guys off the street,” she told ABC News.

Law enforcement officials, though, feel differently. “Her being able to get this victim into a secured restroom with a phone and being able to contact law enforcement very well may have saved her life,” Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Tom Letras told KCRA.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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