The Louisiana truck stop cashier who tipped police off to the whereabouts of a wanted sex offender traveling with a missing 16-year-old girl is still getting used to being called a hero.
Following her quick thinking, which led to the arrest of suspect Steven Myers and the recovery of Ashley Lyon, Tiger Truck Stop cashier Fawn Lasseigne Domingue said that people continue to congratulate her for her help in the incident. But it’s her boyfriend and 5-year-old son’s kind words — and the gratitude of Lyon’s family — that she thinks of first.
“My little boy’s first reaction, he said, ‘Mama, you’re a hero. You saved that girl’s life,’” Domingue, 28, told NBC News on Saturday. The boy also said he wants to meet Lyon.
“It makes me feel good that he is proud of what his mama did,” she added, choked up.
The incident occurred seven hours into an unscheduled shift she had taken over for a fellow employee. Domingue had just closed out her cash register when Myers and Lyon approached her, looking to check out at the truck stop located in Grosse Tete, a village west of Baton Rouge.
Lyon of Valrico, Florida, had been missing since June 11. The girl suffers from bipolar disorder, and had previously been caught hanging out with Myers, a registered sex offender from Plant City, Florida, reported NBC affiliate WFLA.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office told WFLA that Myers and Lyon decided to leave the state together.
On Wednesday, Myers stopped at the Tiger Truck Stop to buy a pack of cigarettes. A co-worker handled the transaction, but Domingue immediately felt something was wrong.
She quickly recognized the two from a Facebook post earlier in the day about a story on CNN’s Nancy Grace website.
“Something told me to click on the one about a 16-year-old girl missing from Florida,” Domingue said.
Domingue then went to the store’s break room, where she checked the story again on her phone and confirmed her suspicions. But when she got back, Myers and Lyon were gone.
“My little boy’s first reaction, he said, ‘Mama, you’re a hero. You saved that girl’s life.’”
The Grosse Tete native sprung into action — telling her co-worker to call the police before leaving the store to follow them.
“I took off out the door to see what direction they had gone in,” Domingue said. “I followed them but I wasn’t making it obvious.”
The cashier said she made it look as if she were heading to the rest stop’s restaurant behind the store. She watched as Myers opened the door to a white pickup truck for Lyon.
Domingue then ran into the restaurant and grabbed a pad of paper from a waitress to write down the car’s license plate number — but it had no plate.
Just then, police from both the local precinct and the sheriff’s office arrived on the scene. They encountered the pair in the white pickup as they were heading for an exit. A car chase ensued. Tires squealed.
Domingue said she began to doubt what she had seen when an Iberville Parish police officer came to question her and take down a statement.
“He asked me, ‘What the hell is going on?’” Domingue said. She showed him the Nancy Grace video and described to him how she recognized the two people from the clip.
The officer was hesitant to confirm that the two individuals in the truck were Myers and Lyon because Louisiana police were also investigating “an exact mirror couple” missing from Baton Rouge, said Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi. Domingue’s description to police could not rule out which of the two pairs she might have seen, the sheriff added.
Any confusion evaporated when police apprehended Myers after a 40-mile car chase. Myers attempted to evade police by weaving through traffic and even continuing to drive after rolling over spike strips police threw down.
His car stopped only because of problems with the engine after Myers drove it on the wheels' rims, Stassi said. During the chase, Myers allegedly stabbed Lyon “eight or nine times.”
“You could be saving a life by making that one phone call.”
The man then stabbed himself at least twice, Stassi said, after getting out of his car. Police subdued him with a K-9 unit and a stun gun. Lyon was taken to the hospital, where she was in serious but stable condition.
Myers remained in Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on charges of attempted murder and criminal damage of property.
Despite being at the right place at the right time, Domingue still feels uncomfortable with what had happened, she said, blaming herself when she learned of Lyon’s stab wounds. But she stopped feeling guilty after considering what would have happened had she not called the police.
“There’s no telling what he would have done,” Domingue said. “He could have had all the time in the world to do what he wanted with her and then killed her.”
Domingue said Lyon’s parents have not yet contacted her, but a great aunt did reach out to express the family’s gratitude.
Now, when looking back on how she overcame her self-doubt during the incident, Domingue advised anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to follow their instincts — just like she did.
“You could be saving a life by making that one phone call,” she said.