HONOLULU (KHON2) — Bridge Hartman was at the right place, at the right time.
“I wasn’t even supposed to work that day,” said Hartman.
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Hartman is now being called the Hilo hero for his fast thinking that helped save missing teenager Mikella DeBina.
“It feels really weird to be called a hero. I just did what I would hope anyone would do for my sister or my cousin,” Hartman said.
It was a slow start to Hartman’s shift Saturday at Café Pesto when suddenly the Hilo restaurant turned into the focus of a missing teen investigation.
“My first thought was that they’re father and daughter. What was scary is he was super polite and I didn’t realize like I had no clue,” said Hartman.
Disguised in a mask and baggy clothes right in front of him was DeBina with her alleged captor, Duncan Mahi. When the 15-year-old started to struggle with the man, that’s when the restaurant host said it all clicked.
“All I remember is yelling who she was and telling the people that were like close to them to stop him. As I’m saying that, I like grabbed her just as quickly,” Hartman said.
Thanks to Hartman and other Good Samaritans’ swift action, Mikella’s family is able to hold her once again. Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth can’t express how proud he is of Hartman and the others that helped.
“Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo,” said Roth. “That’s just so amazing and I’m so grateful and I would say the whole state is just so appreciative for what our Good Samaritans did.”
The community even launched a Venmo campaign to show their appreciation for Hartman’s heroic efforts.
“That’s insane, insane, insane and I’m speechless. I’ve been trying to stay away from social media, but it’s life-changing. I’m not going to lie,” said Hartman.
Hartman said in times like these, the Big Island becomes the big small island and the community always rallies together.
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“I’m incredibly proud of our ability to come together and save this girl’s life,” Hartman said.