JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville couple is very grateful after a few Chick-fil-A employees around the state got involved and helped get their runaway daughter home quickly.
On Tuesday afternoon around noon, Steve and Tammy Harp discovered a note left by their daughter Kaitlyn, saying she had run off with a 19-year-old man she met online seven months ago. They found a photo of the two on Instagram, and he was wearing a Chick-fil-A shirt.
Kaitlyn's parents went to the Chick-fil-A near Jacksonville International Airport to ask if anyone had seen the two, or if he worked there. No one there had seen Kaitlyn or knew the 19-year-old worker, Daniel Bridgeman. Managers put her in touch with a store in Yulee.
A manager there asked the Harps to email her the pictures.
Steve and Tammy Harp were shedding tears as they met Yulee Chik-fil-a manager Lita Fannin less than 24 hours later. It was Fannin who posted the photo of the two on a Facebook site for Chick-fil-A operators that could be seen by hundreds.
"She they could have just wiped it away, 'aw no big deal,' but she put it upon herself, being a mother, said 'I have to get involved,'" said a grateful Tammy Harp.
"I have kids around that age, and I would hope if that happened to me, someone would act quickly," said Fannin.
Within two hours, a Chick-fil-A manager in Winter Haven recognized the employee, called the parents and told his worker to have the girl call home. Then Elio Florin, the manager, drove the girl back home to Jacksonville from Winter Haven, arriving at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
"Tears were shed in our driveway this morning," said Tammy. "He couldn't sleep, he is a father too, he could not go to bed without resting, knowing that she was home safe."
"Because of their involvement what could have taken days, weeks, or months, only took a matter of two or three hours once they got involve," said Steve Harp, Kaitlyn's father. "It is beyond words, as a parent, this is your worst nightmare."
"It turned out really positive, really quickly, which is a blessing," said Fannin.
"We can't thank them enough, we can't thank them enough," said Tammy Harp.
The Harps wanted to tell their story to warn other teens not to put themselves in harm's way online, and not to put their parents in panic mode. They realize this could have turned out much worse. Steve Harp said he didn't yell at his daughter when she came home, just held her tight. He hopes she and the Bridgeman learn from this and won't do anything like this again.
Bridgeman had driven up from Winter Haven and picked Kaitlyn up at her home in the middle of the night. He faces no charges but the Harps said he got a stern lecture from Jacksonville Sheriff's Officers who were at their home when he arrived. Bridgeman rode along with his boss and Kaitlyn to Jacksonville.
"We can't thank them enough, we can't thank them enough. They went the extra mile, above their call of duty getting involved," said Tammy Harp.