Quick-Thinking Gas Station Clerk Helps Save Woman Investigators Say was Kidnapped, Sexually Assaulted

WATERFORD -- A gas station clerk in Waterford is being hailed as a hero after she helped save a woman from four teens suspected of kidnapping and sexually assaulting her.

Savannah Pritchett is a kind, hard-working 24-year-old who says when she saw a woman in need, she did not hesitate to act.

"Everything that happened, it was just instinct for me, like I just knew that I had to keep her hidden," Pritchett told FOX40.

In surveillance video taken Wednesday at the Triple R Gas and Mini Mart, you see a Tulare County woman investigators say was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by four teens.

"Back into Waterford, they stopped to get gas and the victim used the rouse that she needed to use the restroom," sheriff's department spokesman Sgt. Tom Letras said.

That's when Pritchett stepped in to help.

"And then this girl came walking in and she grabbed my hands. And she was like very shaky and she was just kind of like, 'Please help me,'" Pritchett said.

Pritchett says she could feel the woman's fear.

"I gave her my cell phone, I locked the door and I took her to the back and I hid her back there until the sheriffs got here and took her out of the bathroom," she said.

 

In the surveillance footage, Pritchett locks the front door. Then, a minute later, 18-year-old Anthony Sandoval was with another teen when he told Pritchett he needed to use the bathroom.

The clerk says she recognized both teens. She says Sandoval had claimed he had a prosthetic foot and cancer. She is seen unlocking the door.

"They asked me, you know, 'Why’d you lock the door?' and I told them she told me she started her period," Pritchett recalled.

Within minutes, Pritchett says when one of the teens realized deputies were on their way, he begged her to hide him -- and she refused.

The door opens again and the video shows an armed deputy storming into the store.

Three of the teens were arrested that day and the fourth was arrested the next day.

"I wasn’t trying to put anyone in jail," Pritchett said. "I was just trying to help a woman who said she needed help."