Denny’s restaurant stepping up to help employee injured after being struck by vehicle

Dec 4, 2023, 10:31 PM | Updated: 10:35 pm

RIVERDALE — The Riverdale Road Denny’s is organizing community support for an employee who was hit and critically injured while walking in a crosswalk with her young brother.

Witnesses are explaining what the woman did to save her brother’s life, as she now fights for her own.

Anyone looking for a late-night bite at Riverdale Denny’s will probably meet server Viktoria Tibbitts.

Restaurant manager Erin Hunt said when Denny’s hired Viktoria, who goes by Tori, a year ago, she could immediately see Tori’s strong work ethic and the two formed an unbreakable bond.

“She will take every single table that walks in here all on her own,” Hunt said.

The 19-year-old works the graveyard shift Tuesday through Saturday, but is also known to pick up extra shifts and fill gaps when they’re short staffed.

“She just is a little rock star. She is the sweetest person,” said Brenda Owens, the Riverdale Denny’s general manager.

That’s why this past week, the restaurant has felt especially empty without Tori.

“I just I really I miss her,” Erin said, as tears welled up in her eyes. “Having to tell her regulars when they come in and they ask about her, has been so painful.”

Viktoria Tibbitts, center, with her sister and mom (Amanda Neeley)

Retelling the story

Erin has had to recount the story over and over: A week ago on Monday, while Tori and her 5-year-old brother John walked to the store, a pickup truck driver didn’t see them in the crosswalk as he turned by the Maverik at the intersection of Riverdale Road and 1500 West.

Tori’s mother said Tori was taking her little brother to buy groceries to make stuffed French toast for breakfast that morning.

Kenny Sattiewhite was driving with his wife and son when he saw the truck make the turn. He said Tori began to scream.

“She’s screaming, yelled, ‘Hey!’ and… grabbed her brother, and threw him over the truck with one arm,” he said.

Sattiewhite said Tori got her brother out of harm’s way just as the truck plowed into her, instead. She immediately was thrown to the ground and became unresponsive. Kenny said he ran up to John, who was lying on the ground, and Kenny lied down next to John to calm him down. John was bleeding, but was otherwise alert, and saying he wanted his mom.

“She’s a hero,” Kenny said, of what Tori did in those moments. “She is a hero for that.”

Riverdale Police said the driver who hit Tori didn’t see the two in the crosswalk as he turned, saying it was a tragic accident and the driver was not cited.

Tori's 5-year-old brother John survived with only a broken arm (Rikelle Tibbitts) Tori Tibbitts suffered severe head trauma saving her brother from being hit by a truck (Amanda Neeley)

“Saved his life”

Their mother Amanda Neeley said John only suffered a broken arm and it will heal with a cast, thanks to Tori’s actions.

“My son wasn’t hit because of Viktoria. She literally saved his life,” Neeley said, later adding, “She’s amazing, very self-sacrificing. You know, all areas of her life actually.”

Neeley said Tori’s is now in a medically induced coma with severe head trauma, which includes a skull fracture, a brain bleed and swelling, and blood clots. Neeley and her second-oldest child Rikelle Tibbitts explained that doctors believed Tori suffered a mini-stroke and surgeons removed part of her skull.

Her work family doesn’t want Tori to be stuck with all the bills alone, from medical bills to rent and daily needs.

“Because we love her so much. She’s so great, and she’s the first one that will help anybody,” Owens said.

They’re hosting a fundraiser on Sunday at Denny’s. All customers have to do is show up to eat, and 20 percent of the proceeds will go toward Tori.

“She should be totally taken care of, I hope, after this, because she deserves that,” Hunt said.

Neeley may not know what her daughter’s recovery will look like, but she can see all the love, support, and hope for Tori.

“I’m just absolutely floored by the amount of support, even not only from Denny’s, just the community in general,” Neeley said. She said it’s been amazing to experience. “I am so grateful.”

In addition to Sunday’s fundraiser, a GoFundMe account has been set up to help Tori. People can also donate at Mountain America Credit Union under the Tori Tibbitts Charity Fund.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Denny’s restaurant stepping up to help employee injured after being struck by vehicle