08/09/10 — Driver's extra effort helps save woman

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Driver's extra effort helps save woman

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 9, 2010 1:46 PM

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GATEWAY driver Ricky Carr holds Estelle Shepherd's hand when they meet at Mrs. Shepherd's house. Carr might have saved her life. After dropping her son, Thomas, off at his house, Carr noticed Thomas was not let in by his mother as usual. Carr took the extra effort to check on the situation and discovered Mrs. Shepherd unconscious under her kitchen table and alerted the authorities.

Ricky Carr might not look like an angel, but to Estelle Shepherd, 70, that is exactly what he is.

Carr, a part-time driver for GATEWAY, might have saved Mrs. Shepherd's life recently when he noticed something wrong when he stopped at her home.

Carr left his van, found Mrs. Shepherd unconscious on her kitchen floor, the victim of a blood sugar drop, and quickly called paramedics. After four days in the hospital, she was considered fit to return home.

"He needs a medal, he saved my life," she said last week as she gave Carr a big hug. "I won't ever forget it. My daughter sent him a card, but I think he deserves more. I am going to have to give him something for his birthday or something because he sure did save my life.

"It was the Lord God Almighty who sent him by here because it isn't him (driving) every day. I will never forget it because I would be gone today if he had not come to that door and saw me lying on the floor. He should be commended. If it hadn't been for him, I believe I would be dead.

Carr is retired from the Air Force, and is employed full-time with the state Department of Corrections. He just drives for GATEWAY when he is needed.

On July 15, he was making his normal run, which included taking Mrs. Shepherd' son, Thomas, who is developmentally disabled, home from a workshop at Wayne Community College that helps people learn to take care of themselves and obtain work.

When Carr stopped the van at the Shepherd home on East End Circle, he sensed something was wrong. Mrs. Carr always meets her son at the door and usually had a greeting for the bus driver. But Carr didn't see anyone when he pulled up to the stop.

Parking the van, he went to door and saw Mrs. Shepherd through a window, lying unconscious on the kitchen floor.

He called 911. Mrs. Shepherd is diabetic. When emergency personnel arrived, they found her blood sugar had dipped dangerously low.

She said she remembered seeing her son off that morning and recalls starting her chores.

The next thing she remembered was the paramedics standing over her, calling her name.

Technically, Carr's job ends when he drops passengers off, but there are certain passengers, including Thomas, who Carr said he does not leave until they are in the house.

"That is something I do as a driver. It is kind of common sense, if they can't help themselves you don't want to leave them out here if no one is home.

"Usually if no one is home we usually call dispatch and say could you call the home or get in touch with the parents instead of just dropping them off and pulling off because you never know what can happen."

So, checking on Mrs. Shepherd, Carr said, was just part of his obligation as a driver.

"When I bring Thomas home, I normally pull up and blow the horn and Mrs. Shepherd comes to the door and lets Thomas in. He is one of the passengers that I won't leave until he is in the house.

"The door was locked and I am sitting there watching and she never came to the door and we always speak, 'How are you doing?' and that kind of thing. Thomas is standing there waving at me so I decide to get out and come knock on the door myself."

"I stepped up onto the steps and looked into the house and she was lying on the floor face down, under the table," Carr said.

Mrs. Shepherd said it was fate that put Carr behind the wheel that day.

"Lord has mercy, because some of the drivers just put him off and they take right off," she said. "I'm usually around somewhere close to let them know I am here."

Her son, who is unable to talk, would not have been able to help.

GATEWAY Director Alan Stubbs wrote a letter of commendation, praising Carr's quick thinking.

HOPE Director June Fields and job coach Glenda Cruse were called and soon arrived to help take care of Thomas. Both are familiar with the family.

"It was similar to a miracle sent our way that the van driver took the time to realize things were not normal," Ms. Cruse said.

Carr's actions are a good example for others to follow, she said, especially if they are dealing with the elderly or the disabled.

"It doesn't hurt to take the time to investigate or go with your gut instinct if something seems not right," she said. "It was just a good thing he took time to realize things were not right.

"I would say there is an angel always looking after you. It could be in human form or may not be. Something told him something wasn't right. That would be just a miracle of the day."

Carr shrugged off being called a hero.

"I still see that picture of her lying on the floor face down," he said. "Oh, my God. I was just shocked. I just feel good that I got there when I did."