Although McDonald’s isn’t always in the news for the right reasons, a young employee recently made the headlines for saving a distressed customer. Pedro Viloria responded to the emergency like a hero and wasted no time in flying to the rescue. It’s true what they say – not all superheroes wear a cape.
Viloria, 22, is from South Florida. He was working the morning shift at the drive-thru window in a McDonald’s branch in Doral, just outside Miami, on March 14, 2017. And Viloria was suddenly forced to handle a tricky situation.
It was just a normal working day for Viloria when a woman in an SUV pulled up to the window and placed an order with him. The customer had her two children with her, who were sat in the back seats of the car. At this point, everything seemed fine.
It wasn’t until Pedro turned back to the window that he realised that something was wrong. The customer had stopped breathing, in fact, and her body was twitching. To Viloria’s horror, the woman was now unresponsive.
Talking to WPLG, he described the scene in detail, saying, “I see she’s like, inflating her neck, like trying to breathe, like ‘ahh,’ and basically I thought something was wrong.” He also spoke to NBC4 about the incident, recalling, “I see she’s hardly breathing, and I thought that’s not normal.”
The customer’s foot then slipped off the brakes, which resulted in her vehicle rolling forwards. CBS Miami subsequently broadcast footage of the incident that had been captured by CCTV cameras at the restaurant.
As the car was rolling forwards, the kids in the back made their distress audible. Viloria recalled the children’s anxiety, telling CBS Miami that he heard them screaming, “Mother, mother, stop it. Mother, what are you doing?”
Recalling the panic that set in during those fateful moments, Viloria told WPLG, “In that moment, I thought, ‘I’d rather save that woman’s life.’” And he reflected again on that pivotal juncture when talking to CBS Miami, saying, “I thought, ‘If those kids lose their mother today, that’s going to be tragic.’”
As a result, Viloria sprang into action. A surveillance camera caught his next course of action. With one hand, he gripped the side of the window frame, and with the other, he held on to the bottom of the frame. Viloria then propelled himself, with both feet together, through the window and ran after the car.
Fortunately, he reached the SUV just as it hit a curb, which brought the vehicle to a halt. Viloria was then able to pull the driver out to safety. Next, he turned to the children and told them to call 911, which they promptly did.
In a stroke of good fortune, a firefighter then rolled into the restaurant. CBS Miami reported that he was unaware at first that something was wrong but spotted the commotion outside and went to investigate. His partner also joined him, as well as a paramedic who was off-duty.
First-responders arrived shortly afterwards, and the stricken driver was taken to Kendall Regional Hospital. Viloria stayed by the woman’s children and did his best to comfort them. “I was with the kids telling them it was going to be all right,” he said to CBS Miami.
“I never panicked,” Viloria recalled in an interview with WSVN. “I never panicked at all. My brain was on hero mode, totally. It is what a hero does – if I would’ve need to die to save that woman, I would’ve done it.”
And it wasn’t just Viloria who had come to the woman’s rescue. Another employee, who wished to remain anonymous, helped with CPR after the driver had been pulled out of the car. McDonald’s subsequently released a statement that read, “Their quick thinking and action were everything in that moment.”
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the [woman] and her family during this difficult time,” the statement from McDonald’s continued. “I think I speak for our McDonald’s family when I say how proud we are of Pedro.”
The actions of Viloria, who was already an outstanding worker according to his employers, didn’t seem to shock his colleagues or superiors. “He is an excellent employee, so it didn’t surprise [us] that he took immediate action and jumped through a window to help save this woman,” the company’s statement read.
And it wasn’t just his employers who were impressed with Viloria. Hank Tester, in his report for CBS Miami, concluded by saying, “The kid done good, saved a life.” Tester also heralded the second employee, who assisted with CPR, as “another hero.”
And what’s more, it turned out that the driver was none other than an off-duty Miami-Dade cop. When Viloria was informed of her identity, he was taken aback, telling Today, “I saved an officer’s life? I can’t believe this.”
The officer was said to have been in a critical condition on the day of the accident. According to Today, “at the request of her family” Miami-Dade Police Department revealed no further details regarding her progress.
When asked by Today if he felt like a hero, Viloria replied, “Well kind of. I mean, yes, because it is what a hero does.” By acting on instinct, Viloria earned the respect of many. No prizes, then, for those who guessed who was voted employee of the month.