(ABC News) — Family members spread out over three states ordered a pizza for their grandmother in Florida to make sure she was all right when they couldn’t reach her after Hurricane Matthew.
Eric Olsen of Omaha, Nebraska, told ABC News today that he became extremely worried when he wasn’t able to reach his 87-year-old grandmother, Claire Olsen, who lives alone in Palm Coast, Florida, after the storm roared through the area on Saturday.
“Well, I talked to her on Friday morning, and she had just lost power, and she said, ‘This is a nightmare,'” Eric Olsen told ABC News today, “and then we didn’t hear from her for two days.”
He added, “I was calling the police department, I was calling the sheriff’s department, and no one was answering, so I was really worried.”
On Sunday, when he still wasn’t able to reach her, he decided to get creative.
“So I just said, ‘I’m going to order her a pizza, and if they can deliver it, then I know she’s alive,'” Eric Olsen said.
He said he wrote a special instruction when he placed the pizza order, asking the delivery person to call his phone when the pizza was delivered. He then asked the deliveryman to give his cellphone to Claire Olsen so he could hear from her and make sure she was OK.
Eric Olsen said that when he heard his grandmother’s voice on the other line, he felt “relief, absolute relief.”
“Police and fire couldn’t do it, but Papa John’s got there in 30 minutes and put the cellphone to her ear,” he joked.
He said he got the idea to order the pizza spontaneously. “I was just thinking, ‘Who can go there right now? Who can I call in a city where I know no one?'”
He added, “People are asking why I didn’t call the police and ask them to do a wellness check, but I did. Trust me, Papa John’s was a last resort.”
Eric Olsen explained that he is in Nebraska, his father is in South Dakota, and his sister is in Los Angeles, so there were no relatives nearby who could go check on his grandmother.
Pizza deliveryman Lance Tyler told local ABC News affiliate WFTV that when he saw Claire Olsen speak to her grandson on his phone, “Her expression was just priceless.”
She told WFTV that the pepperoni pizza from her grandson was “fantastic.”