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                                            etter carriers’ daily duties give     Patron pinned by SUV
                                   L        them unique knowledge of the
                                            goings-on in our communities.
                                            These are the stories of men
                                   and women who used their special
                                   position to the great benefit of the
                                                                                     People sometimes forget just how
                                                                                  heavy a vehicle really is, but when Mari-
                                                                                  lyn Hall stepped out of her SUV and it
                                                                                  slipped out of gear, she was quickly
                                   patrons they serve.                            reminded. Letter carrier James “Ben-
                                                                                  nie” Mack was nearby when he saw the
                                                                                  car begin to roll out of Hall’s driveway,
                                   Child pulled from wreck                        dragging the patron with it into the
                                   as truck motor races                           street. The vehicle came to rest at the
                                      After he saw a black pickup truck           curb, pinning Hall’s ankle between the
                                   miss a turn and slam violently into a          curb and the tire. The Roswell, Georgia
                                   dumpster, the first thing Cleveland, Ohio      Branch 4862 member carefully climbed
                                   Branch 40 member Emmitt Tucker                 into the SUV and eased it forward, away
                                   heard was a little girl calling from the       from the injured woman. With Hall
                                   wreckage. “The truck bounced off the           freed and the truck safely parked, Mack
                                   dumpster, plowed through a small elec-         used his cell phone to call the woman’s
                                   trical housing building, tore through two      husband and summoned help, then
                                   large satellite dishes and stopped,” Tuck-     waited until the others arrived.
                                   er said. “I could hear the girl screaming         A very grateful Hall said, “I know that
                                   ‘Please help me! Get me out!’”                 this goes above and beyond his job
                                      The letter carrier went into action         description. I very much appreciated his
                                   instantly. A passerby was trying to help       timely action.” Mack was recognized by
                                   the driver, whose door was blocked, so         the Roswell postmaster, Arthur D.
                                   Tucker leapt into the back of the still-       Smith, for his deed.
                                   revving truck and told the terrified 8-year-
                                   old child to open the rear window. “She hit
                                   the latch on the window and I reached in
                                                                                  Carrier resuscitates
                                   and pulled her out,” the carrier said.         crash victim
                                      After removing the child to a safe dis-        Traveling to work one morning,
                                   tance, Tucker returned to the truck to         Chicago letter carrier Debra Hamilton
                                   try to aid the driver. “The driver was         came upon a traffic accident—not
 Debra Hamilton of
 Chicago, IL Branch
                                   having some sort of seizure. His foot          unusual for a Windy City commute. As
 11, who resuscitated a            was still pushing on the accelerator, but      she attempted to pull around the wreck
 crash victim on her               the truck was blocked by one of the            to continue on her way, she noticed a
 way to work.                      satellite dishes,” Tucker explained.           body lying beside one of the cars. Real-
                                      Once the letter carrier and the passer-     izing just how recently the crash
                                   by managed to turn off the ignition,           occurred, the Branch 11 member
                                   Tucker called 911 and waited at the            quickly pulled out of traffic to help
                                   scene with the driver and the trembling        assess the injuries. Another passerby,
                                   child until emergency personnel arrived.       traveling just behind her, had also
                                   Recalling the experience Tucker said           stopped and was checking the pulse of
                                   simply, “I’m glad I was there to help.”        the unconscious woman. When no

18 POSTAL RECORD I NOVEMBER 2006                                                    NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS
                                                                                                      Eye the
                                                            Roswell, GA Br. 4862
                                                            member James “Bennie”
                                                            Mack was honored for
                                                            saving a patron from
                                                            being dragged under her
                                                            SUV. Pictured (from l) are:
                                                            Paul Barner, chief stew-
                                                                                           W      hile delivering mail, Daryl Schwan of
                                                                                                  Aberdeen, South Dakota Branch 502
                                                                                           heard a low rumbling sound coming from
                                                            ard; D. Robert Johnson,
                                                            branch president; Brother
                                                                                           the garage of one of his patrons. Listening
                                                            Mack; Roswell Postmas-         more closely, Schwan realized there was a
                                                            ter Arthur D. Smith.           vehicle running within. He rang the door-
                                                                                           bell, but received no response. The carrier
                                                                                           located a telephone nearby and called 911.
                                                                                           Fire fighters forced their way into the home
                                                                                           and found Schwann’s patron disoriented
pulse was detected, Hamilton was              “It was scary,” said Galindo. “I am          from exposure to carbon monoxide fumes
unwilling to let the situation stand.      glad everything turned out all right.”          and minutes away from certain death.
   She ran to the trunk of her car and     The neighbor who helped Galindo sent            Schwan’s patron thanked Schwan for his
retrieved a pair of sweat pants and her    a letter of thanks to the post office for       “alertness and quick action,” and credited
bagged lunch. The carrier tucked the       the carrier’s quick action in what she          him with saving his life.
pants under the woman’s neck in            described as a “serious and heart-
order to clear the airway and used the     wrenching situation.”
sandwich bag from her lunch to create
a protective barrier. As Hamilton
                                                                                           G    ene Kahl of Pensacola, Florida Branch
                                                                                                321 suspected that something was
                                                                                           amiss when he found mail piling up at an
administered CPR, the woman began          Stopping a scam cold                            elderly couple’s home. When he passed the
to cough and regained consciousness.          Letter carriers’ special role in the com-    home, he marked the car tire with chalk so
Hamilton stayed with the accident vic-     munity puts them in a position to hear          that he could judge whether it had moved
tim until emergency teams arrived and      about a wide range of joys and troubles.        when he returned. Finding the mark undis-
took over.                                 When Jeff Krofcheck, a Cleveland, Ohio          turbed two days later, Kahl knocked on the
                                           Branch 40 member, delivered mail to             door. Although he could hear someone
                                           Charles Zlakowski one afternoon, the            inside, he received no response. The carrier
Toddler alerts carrier                     man was excited to share the news of a          went to a local deli to call for help. When
to apparent suicide attempt                recent windfall. Zlakowski said he had          police arrived, they discovered the husband
                                           been contacted by a woman claiming that         dehydrated and too weak to move, holding
   Letter carrier John Galindo, a mem-     she worked for a law firm that tracked          the hand of his deceased wife, singing
ber of San Bernadino, California           down sweepstakes winners who hadn’t             hymns to her. “He was ready to die with her
Branch 411, was surprised to see a tod-    responded to mail notices. The patron           in that house,” said the carrier, who prides
dler, about 3 years old, walk up to his    had already paid his first “wiring fee” of      himself on knowing the name of every resi-
truck as he was delivering mail one        $2,600 and the next day he was sending          dent on his 700-home route. “I know their
afternoon. A quick look around made it     the “final” $72,000 to a Nicaraguan firm        dogs. I know their kids,” he said, adding,
clear the child was alone in her yard,     that would bring him millions.                  “I’m just glad to be of service.”
which concerned him. Galindo asked            Krofchek had heard this same story
the little girl where her mother was.      before from another patron and recog-
“The answer shocked me,” he said.
“She said her mommy was asleep and
                                           nized it as a scam. He told his cus-
                                           tomer it was a hoax, but Zlakowski              A   full mailbox is often the first outward
                                                                                               sign that an elderly customer is in dis-
                                                                                           tress. Such was the case on letter carrier
would never wake up. I asked the girl      explained the many conversations he
to go back to the house and tell her       had had with supposed accountants and           Tracy Johnson’s route. A member of
mother that the mailman is outside and     lawyers who answered all his questions.         Shawnee Mission, Kansas Branch 5521,
needs to talk to her.”                        Krofcheck knew Zlakowski was                 Johnson took note of the accumulated
   The child, however, came back alone,    going to lose his savings if someone            mail at one woman’s home and knew that
so Galindo went to the door and rang       didn’t intervene. After work the letter         no vacation notice had been filed. When
the bell. Receiving no answer, he          carrier did some research on the perpe-         knocking on the door and calling out the
dashed next door and asked a neighbor      trators of foreign lottery scams and            woman’s name yielded no answer, John-
to call for help. Returning to the home,   brought his findings to Zlakowski that          son alerted neighbors and emergency per-
the letter carrier went inside and found   same evening. The customer was con-             sonnel. The local EMS discovered the
the mother had apparently taken med-       vinced and kept his cash. “If Jeff hadn’t       woman had fallen and broken her hip four
ication and was completely unrespon-       shown up that day, I guarantee you, the         days earlier. The woman was taken to a
sive. Medical personnel soon arrived       next day that check would have been             hospital and later was moved to a nearby
and the child’s father was called.         gone,” Zlakowski said.                          convalescent center.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS                                                   NOVEMBER 2006 I POSTAL RECORD 19
                                                 and, while waiting for help to arrive,             was first on the scene of a fire at a
                                                 recruited some of the tenants to help              home on her route. When she saw
                                                 to slow the progress of the fire. The              flames coming from an electrical junc-
                                                 group threw dirt and gravel onto the               tion box near an apartment door, she
                                                 flames, partially smothering the fire              first called emergency personnel and
                                                 and keeping it from spreading to other             then checked whether anyone was
                                                 parts of the building. The local sheriff           home. When no one answered the
                                                 commended Winther for alerting the                 door, the carrier picked up a garden
C    risis was neatly averted when
     Christopher Mooney, a New Cas-
tle, Pennsylvania Branch 22 carrier,
                                                 fire department so quickly and for tak-
                                                 ing steps to help save the lives of the
                                                                                                    hose and doused the flames with
                                                 tenants as well as protect the complex                 The fire department credited the car-
arrived at a home on his Clearfield              from any great damage.
route. When he smelled and saw                                                                      rier’s fast action for containing the fire
                                                                                                    and minimizing damage to the building.
smoke rolling out of a downstairs win-
dow, he urgently knocked at the door.
Receiving no answer, Mooney called
                                                 H     aving a fire extinguisher on hand
                                                       is only half of the solution to an
                                                 unexpected fire—knowing how to use
                                                                                                    “Had Barbara not acted as quickly as she
                                                                                                    did, the fire could have been a lot larger.
the fire department. Fire fighters               it is key. Luckily, Tidewater, Virginia            She did an excellent job,” one fire fighter
found an unattended pot burning on               Branch 247 member Larr y Hill, was                 stated.
the stove and extinguished it before it          prepared. When a distraught customer
could seriously damage the home.
   In a letter to the editor of the Clearfield
                                                 ran from her home, yelling that her
                                                 son’s bedroom was on fire, Hill made
                                                                                                    C    oming upon a house fire can be
                                                                                                         daunting, but letter carrier Earl
                                                                                                    Holston took the blaze he discovered
Progress, homeowner Florence Homer               sure everyone was out of the house,                in stride. While making a delivery, the
wrote, “[The situation] could have been          called 911 and then entered the                    Tidewater, Virginia Branch 247 mem-
very serious, but because of the quick           home armed with the customer’s fire                ber noticed that the vinyl siding on a
actions of one of Clearfield’s mail carri-       extinguisher, which she did not know               garage wall of the home across the
ers, that was avoided. My heartfelt appre-       how to operate. Hill quickly extin-                street was on fire. He crossed the
ciation and thanks must go to him.”              guished the flames, keeping the fire               street, grabbed the running sprinkler
                                                 from spreading beyond the bedroom                  from the next yard and proceeded to
W      hen letter carrier Kimberly
       Winther pulled into the parking
lot of an apartment complex on her
                                                     Taking to heart the lesson of his expe-
                                                                                                    extinguish the flames. Rather than take
                                                                                                    for granted that the fire was out, Hol-
                                                 rience, that evening Hill made sure
route and noticed smoke coming from                                                                 ston asked two women waiting for
                                                 everyone in his household knew how to
the balcony of one of the apartments,                                                               their children at the bus stop to use a
                                                 operate an extinguisher.
she immediately jumped into action.                                                                 cell phone to call the fire department.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan Branch
56 member called emergency services              B    arbara Channels, a member of
                                                      Hartford, Connecticut Branch 86,
                                                                                                    Once the call was made, Holston con-
                                                                                                    tinued his route.

Eye the
                                   L  iving alone can be lonely indeed for many elderly.
                                      Letter carrier Derylyn Godwin was always ready
                                   to check in on a 96-year-old woman on her route,
                                   who met her each day on the porch. When Mrs.
                                                                                             Gary Keist came upon one of his customers, Robert
                                                                                             Dew, unconscious in a flowerbed, he immediately
                                                                                             came to the man’s aid. Keist, a member of Bloom-
                                                                                             ington, Illinois Branch 522, called out to a neighbor
                                   Wilcox was not sitting in her chair one day, Godwin,      to alert emergency personnel. Responders found
 ELDERLY                           a member of Charleston, South Carolina Branch
                                   3902, was concerned. Calls into the house went
                                                                                             that the man was a diabetic whose blood sugar had
                                                                                             dropped dangerously low. After receiving care at a
                                   unanswered, so Godwin entered the home and                local hospital, the man quickly recovered—in time
                                   found Wilcox lying on the floor of her bedroom            for his 86th birthday celebration.
                                   where she had fallen. The letter carrier called 911           Dew’s thankful daughter wrote to the local postmas-
                                   and waited with her customer until emergency per-         ter, saying, “It was Gary’s knowledge of and concern for
                                   sonnel arrived. Because of Godwin’s attentiveness,        the people on his route that helped save my dad’s life.”
                                   Wilcox recovered fully and was soon back on her
                                   porch, greeting all comers with a smile.                       any patrons have patterns that are quite well
                                                                                             M    known to their letter carriers. When Mrs. Ship

                                   G   ardening is great exercise with a beautiful payoff,
                                       but can certainly be taxing. When letter carrier
                                                                                             didn’t come to the door to greet Gary Prieur on the
                                                                                             day her Social Security check arrived, the Buffalo-
20 POSTAL RECORD I NOVEMBER 2006                                                                       NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS
        Aid for injured                                    When paramedics arrived, Millis
                                                        was airlifted to a nearby hospital,
        crash victims                                   where he eventually underwent
           When letter carrier Keith Wood-              surgery to have a metal plate insert-
        ward, a Shawnee Mission, Kansas                 ed to replace his shattered cheek-
        Branch 5521 member, saw a school                bone. Snyder modestly commented
                                                                                                      Branch 1100 carrier Ted Snyder, whose
        bus smash into a tree, he hurried to            on his role by saying, “Anyone who            immediate response saved patron
        aid those on board. After prying open           carries mail for a while will eventual-       impaled in garden. Photo by Will Magallanes
        the bus doors and helping the two               ly end up helping people.”
        teenage passengers out of the dam-
        aged vehicle, Woodward used his
        Army medic training to attend to the
        driver, who was pinned against the              Strong-arm robber
        dash and suffering from shock. The
        carrier waited with the three victims
                                                        thwarted by
        until paramedics arrived. When all              fleet-footed carrier
        was under control, he proceeded                    As Billie Jean Ussery unloaded
        with his daily rounds.                          mail at the back dock of his station,
                                                        he heard the frantic shouts of postal
                                                        customer Ruby Norris. When the
        Impaled patron saved                            Thomaston, Georgia Branch 2809
           Garden Grove, California Branch              carrier looked up, he saw a man
        1100 member Ted Snyder’s quick                  force his way into Norris’ car and
        response saved customer Carl Millis             proceed to wrestle her purse away
        from a near-fatal injury. When Snyder           from her. Ussery quickly ran to the
        saw neighborhood a teen assisting a             vehicle and pulled the attacker from
        staggering Millis, he kept an eye on            the car. The man scrambled to his
        the man. The 86-year-old carried his            feet and ran off with the purse. A
        groceries haltingly, then fell face             local deputy happened to be coming
        down in his garden. Snyder immedi-              out of a business along the street
        ately came to Millis’ aid, finding he           and intercepted the robber as he
        had landed on a piece of exposed                tried to flee. Norris, who suffered a
        rebar and had impaled his cheek on              heart attack after the ordeal but later
        the rod. Snyder compressed the                  recovered, referred to Ussery as
        wound and summoned help.                        “my hero.”

Western New York Branch 3 member noticed the              meter, where a screw had become
change of routine. When he discovered she hadn’t          loose.
picked up the previous day’s mail either, he quickly         A grateful Fisher wrote, “I think
called emergency personnel. Ship was found lying          he’s the tops. He epitomizes what
on her floor, having fallen two days earlier. Thanks      service is all about. Who knows
to Prieur’s alert response, the patron was transport-     what could have happened if it
ed to the hospital where she recovered.                   went undetected? Somebody
                                                          walking by with a cigar could have
    ne crisp winter morning Anthony Villani, a            set it off.”
O   member of Long Island Merged, New York
Branch 6000, detected a faint smell of gas outside
                                                             Villani takes it all in stride.
                                                          “When you’re out there, you’re
a customer’s home. and alerted the homeowner,             always looking around, taking care
Thomas Fisher. While Fisher couldn’t catch the            of the neighborhood,” he said. “I                        L.I. Mgd., NY Branch 6000 member
scent, he followed Villani’s advice and contacted         would want someone to                                    Anthony Villani (r) and patron
                                                                                                                   Thomas Fisher revisit the site of a
the gas company, which confirmed the carrier’s            do the same for me.”                                     gas leak detected by the carrier.
suspicions. A leak was found near the external                                                                                              Photo by Ed Stever

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS                                                           MARCH 2002 | POSTAL RECORD 21
                                                                                                   NOVEMBER 2006 I POSTAL RECORD
            Eye the

       hen letter carrier Terry Holcomb of St.
W      Louis, Missouri Branch 343 heard a         F  or two and a half hours as he lay in the
                                                     cold February wind and rain beside his
                                                  van all Mr. Van Abernathy could say was,
                                                                                                   could see her dog locked inside the house,
                                                                                                   barking like crazy,” said Dickon. “That dog
                                                                                                   usually ignores me—I knew something was
loud popping noise and turned to see smoke
pouring out of a home on Osceola Street, he       “9-1-1.” Van Abernathy was disoriented by a      wrong.” Dickon also knew that a nearby
didn’t stop to ponder the situation. Holcomb      diabetic shock, cut from his fall and weak-      neighbor had a key to Ryan’s home. The two
knew it was the home of a 95-year-old             ened from starting dialysis. He tried to pull    entered and found Ryan lying face down in
                                                  himself to where he could be seen but had        the bathroom, lodged between the vanity
woman and ran toward the burning building.
                                                  only enough strength to brace himself            and the wall, conscious but unable to move.
 “I tried to open the door, but the handle
                                                  against his vehicle. When letter carrier Roger   Dickon called rescue personnel and Ryan
broke,” said Holcomb, “so I started banging       Hinson, a member of Charlotte, North Carolina    was soon rushed to the hospital.
on the door.” The resident heard the com-         Branch 545, approached the driveway he            “Leona’s relatives knew of Jeff and his kind-
motion and came to the door in her night-         thought he heard an injured animal, but          ness, cheerfulness and thoughtfulness, as she
gown, as she had been sleeping and had not        quicky discovered his patron. Hinson called      spoke of him often,” the neighbor later wrote.
noticed the fire. The woman later told the St.    an ambulance and despite the ordeal and          “Jeff is a hero to myself, my neighborhood,
Louis Dispatch, “He saved my life. I wouldn’t     prolonged exposure, his                          Leona’s family and all of her friends.”
have gotten out without him.” While the fire      customer recovered.
burned a hole through the roof, the woman         “Because of the heroic
was unharmed thanks to Holcomb’s knowl-           efforts of Hinson on that
edge of his patrons and his quick action.         day, he not only deliv-
                                                  ered my mail—he deliv-
    renda Brosia-Carter came upon one of
B   her elderly customers waving some mail
                                                  ered me from possible
                                                  death,” Van Abernathy
out of the window of his car that he wanted       said. “I want to thank
posted. When she parked her vehicle and           this concerned citizen
moved to meet the man at his car, he              for his help.”
stepped from his car which he inadvertently
put in reverse. The 76-year-old man was
knocked down by the car door and the vehi-
                                                  F  or 86-year-old Leona
                                                     Ryan, sitting on the
                                                  porch with her cocker
cle rolled over both his legs. Brosia-Carter, a   spaniel, waiting for the
member of Cayce-West Columbia, South              mail and greeting letter
Carolina Branch 4616, first made sure that        carrier Jeff Dickon for a
the man was alright and then went to              brief chat was a daily
retrieve the car, which had run down an           routine. Dickon, a mem-
embankment and come to rest under some            ber of Akron, Ohio
trees. After parking the car and removing the     Branch 148 became               Charlotte, NC Branch 545 member Roger Hinson discov-
                                                  concerned when Ryan             ered customer Mr. Van Abernathy in the pouring rain suf-
keys, the carrier returned to the patron, who                                     fering from diabetic shock. The two celebrated Van
                                                  was absent from her
insisted that he was only mildly injured and                                      Aberathy’s recovery at the post office.
                                                  usual perch one day. “I
could drive himself to his doctor.

22 POSTAL RECORD I NOVEMBER 2006                                                                      NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS