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The City Journals

‘Guardian angels’ recognized for assistance in October stabbing

Mar 07, 2018 01:11PM ● By Travis Barton

Tony Orton (front row left) and Fil Reyes hold their recognition plaques after being recognized by the West Valley City Council and Police Department. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Fil Reyes has always stood up for people. The morning of Oct. 9, 2017 was no exception.  

The South Salt Lake native who lives in West Valley was delivering beer at about 2:30 a.m. to the Maverik gas station at 3112 S. Redwood Road when a man had jumped over the counter and stabbed the clerk, Christine Marsh, multiple times with a pocketknife. The man, who Reyes said had been acting odd prior to the stabbing, was pulling Marsh into the manager’s office

“I just looked at her like it was my sister or my girlfriend, just had to do something,” Reyes said. 

Along with his delivery partner for the night, Holladay resident Tony Orton, the two helped Marsh wriggle free and lock the assailant in the office until police arrived. 

“It’s good people just doing the right thing at the right time and you just pray to god for the best outcome,” Reyes said. 

The West Valley City Council recognized the two men with Courageous Citizen awards at a January council meeting. 

“They deserve it,” said Marsh. 

Then-West Valley City Interim Police Chief Colleen Jacobs thanked the two men in her recognition for their “quick, and likely lifesaving, actions.”

West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow expressed his appreciation for the Good Samaritans. 

“Good thing they were there and alert and did so safely,” he said during the meeting. 

Orton said it was nice of West Valley to recognize them. 

“Kind of a surreal moment so to speak, to be honored for something like this,” he said. “It’s quite amazing and I’m glad I even made a new friend in Christine...I’m just glad that Christine is doing well.”

For only two weeks had Marsh been working at that Maverik when the incident occurred. She suffered multiple stab wounds, including in the face, and a broken finger. She said people are supposed to be in certain places, like her two new friends. 

“I had a guardian angel there and they’re like my guardian angels too,” Marsh said. 

She is mostly recovered from her injuries describing each day as “better than the last.” While she says she is still on her guard now, Marsh is understanding having already forgiven the man, Edwin Ogando, for what happened. In addition to seeing a therapist, she went to all the court hearings, which has helped her emotional recovery. 

Originally from Ogden, Marsh has returned to work at a Maverik gas station in West Haven (just north of Roy and west of Ogden). She said Maverik was supportive visiting her in the hospital and giving her time to recover.

She said Orton checks in on her and she even sent both men Christmas cards. 

“We’re glad that she’s still here with us,” Orton said. 

Going forward Orton said he’s learned to always be aware and pay attention, now constantly surveilling his surroundings. A month after the stabbing, he was at the same Maverik when he heard a couple of homeless people becoming belligerent and heard one of the them say, “I’ll kill you.” 

“This is a little too familiar,” he said and called the police who arrived and deescalated the situation. 

Orton said he and Reyes spent the rest of that autumn day not eating or talking about how things could have ended differently, but were thankful it didn’t end with anybody dead. 

“There’s always that what if, fight or flight question that you ask yourself all the time,” Orton said. “But now I know (what I would do).” 

Reyes said he’s always lived his life that way. “Just kind of stand up for people and do what’s right ‘cause that’s the kind of man I am.” 

The experience served him a reminder to “be more family oriented because you never know when your last day could be taken away from you like that.”