Dolphin Award profile: Joseph Evans and Michael Miller

Joseph Evans and Michael Miller went from two Malibu residents to two Malibu heroes one morning when they both aided in the saving of a kidnapped young girl.

On June 12 last year, while at the Arco gas station at Pacific Coast Highway and Emily Shane Way, Michael Miller noticed a young girl in the passenger seat of a car. She was visibly distressed.

“I just remember the girl turning to me when she was seated in the car at the gas station and looking at me and pleading with meto help her,” he recalled. “I wanted to know what was wrong, and that was why I intervened.”

Miller immediately took action, confronting the man who had been driving the car, 28-year-old Alexis Fantauzzi, and told him to release the girl. Fantauzzi refused and drove away, prompting Miller to call 911.

Joseph Evans had been filling up on gas during the confrontation and he felt that the situation would be resolved with police involvement. He left the gas station, driving towards Kanan Dume Road on his way to work. A short while later he saw the car with the man and the young girl pulled over on the side of the road. Evans called the police again and updated them on the assailant’s location. Until the police arrived and tracked down the car, Evans followed the kidnapper up and down Kanan and PCH, making sure the young girl was safe until police arrived.

Evans, who works for Wells Fargo as a branch manager in Westlake Village, lives in Malibu with his wife Maddy. He said it was a lucky coincidence that he happened to be filling up gas at the station, while Miller was purchasing equipment that the gas station was selling that day. If the kidnapping had happened a day later, he said, things could have turned out differently.

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“It was just right place at the right time,” said Evans.

Michael Miller has two sons and three stepchildren, each of whom has grown up in Malibu, which he has called home for 49 years.

“I’m just grateful that she was safe and that she’s moved on with her life, and that this guy isn’t going to hurt someone else’s daughter,” Miller said.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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