09/29/10 — Woman watches out for, saves neighbor

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Woman watches out for, saves neighbor

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on September 29, 2010 1:46 PM

Margaret Davenport Gibbs likes knowing what's going on around her apartment building on Beech Street, and her attentiveness recently saved a neighbor's life.

The 76-year-old was the first to notice when a strange smell started coming from a neighboring apartment one night last week.

"I went right out there with my pretty pajamas on. I heard her moaning and I smelled something burning," she said.

Mrs. Gibbs knew her neighbor suffered from health problems and had experienced several strokes. Earlier the same day, she and fellow apartment-dweller Marie Sharrow had helped her when they saw she was having difficulty walking and getting in and out of her car.

Mrs. Gibbs knew her neighbor had fallen before and had trouble standing up. Combined with the smoke coming from the apartment, Mrs. Gibbs was worried enough to call the police.

Officers quickly responded and broke down the door to enter the apartment. Police found the 49-year-old resident unconscious on the floor, with a steak burning on the stove. She was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital for treatment of what may have been diabetic shock, Mrs. Gibbs said.

Days later, the lingering smell of the fumes was hidden by candles, but Mrs. Gibbs' voice was still scratchy from breathing in the smoke-tainted air that had entered her own home through the ventilation ducts.

Without intervention, the situation could have been much worse, but now her neighbor is recovering, she said.

"She thanked me so much for going over there and checking on her. I called her every day to see how she was doing," Mrs. Gibbs said.

The apartment complex neighbors always look out for one another, keeping an eye on any strange cars in the driveway and noticing when someone's car is gone for a long time without explanation. When someone needs help, the community is quick to offer a hand.

"If we see something that doesn't look right, we report it. But I claim to be the nosy one," Mrs. Gibbs said.

But there is a difference between being nosy and caring, and if something isn't right at her apartment, "they come looking for me, too," she said.

Her neighbor is now home from the hospital and staying with family while she recuperates from the scare. But she did stop by to see her good Samaritan.

"She hugged my neck and said, 'You saved my life,'" Mrs. Gibbs said.