|Detroit Police Sergeant rescus man crawling along Van Buren St.|
Thomas Clayton, 69, went out for his routine morning walk on Saturday, Jan. 28, leaving Van Buren Street and heading across Tyler Road for the sidewalk to get to Haggerty.
About halfway to Haggerty, the General Motors retiree slipped on some ice under the snow and fell, breaking his hip.
He tried to get the attention of motorists on Tyler several times by pulling himself up on poles and waving, but was unsuccessful. They just kept on driving. So, he crawled across Tyler and headed along the fence on the corner of Van Buren, trying to make it home.
Clayton remembers he kept praying for someone to come help him. Eventually, the man he calls his “angel” appeared.
John Coleman was driving from his nearby Van Buren Township home to get to work as a sergeant at the Detroit Police Department for an unusual Saturday shift. As he drove eastward on Tyler, he saw a man crawling down Van Buren Street, about two or three houses down.
Coleman, 44, said it looked like someone had fallen or was in medical difficultly, so he made a u-turn, drove into Van Buren Street and asked the man if he was all right. He wasn’t.
Clayton was so happy to get help, but he didn’t want Coleman to call 9-1-1. He just wanted to go home, so his wife could take care of everything.
So, Coleman gently picked him up, put him in his car and took him home. Then he carried Clayton inside his home and headed off to work, identifying himself only as “John”.
Clayton’s wife Sharon, who was in the bathroom getting ready to go to her hair appointment, found her husband seated in the house and, after he convinced her he actually had fallen, she called the neighbors and then 9-1-1.
The doctors didn’t have to do a hip replacement because the break was clean and, amazingly, nothing was dislodged from all the crawling around. They gamma nailed him together and added a tube and a screw. He currently uses a walker to get around.
But, they wanted to thank their “angel” and didn’t know how to find him. They put up a sign “Thank you, John” in their little front yard, hoping he would see it.
Coleman said he waited a week or two before stopping by with his wife and son to find out how Clayton was getting along.
“When I saw that sign on the lawn, I teared up,” Sgt. Coleman said, adding he’s not the kind of man who cries much.
Clayton said when he saw Coleman again, he started crying, too.
They had forged a deep relationship.
The Clayton’s daughter Debbie Squier of Sumpter Township, who helps her parents with all kinds of things, helped her dad put together a letter and send it to the Independent so his angel, John Coleman, could be properly thanked.
This is the letter he sent to the paper:
Angels among us in Van Buren Township
To the Editor:
On Saturday, Jan. 28 at approximately 6:20 a.m., I set out for my routine morning walk, the same way I’ve been doing so for the past 14 years.
I left my home, located in Haggerty Subdivision, and proceeded to walk north on Van Buren Street towards Tyler Road. I crossed over Tyler Road and proceeded east on the walking path next to JP Morgan Chase as I usually do.
Unfortunately, this time I would not complete my daily seven-mile walk.
Half way between Van Buren Street and Haggerty Road I slipped and fell on ice that lay hidden under the snowy sidewalk. I attempted to get up but was unable to do so, as I would find out hours later that I had broken my hip!
I heard a car coming up Tyler Road and luckily there was a pole by the path so I pulled myself up and waved for help; the car just kept going as if they didn’t see me. I started to panic as the temperature was rather cold and I had no idea how I was going to get home and started to pray.
After 20-30 minutes without anyone stopping to help me, I started to crawl back towards Van Buren Street and over Tyler Road. On the corner of Tyler Road and Van Buren Street, there’s a telephone pole at the entrance of the subdivision that I used to pull myself up on my good leg. Still no one stopped to help me. I still didn’t know how I could make it home on my own, so I continued to pray!
By now it was nearing 8 a.m. and I was cold and anxious. “How am I going to make it home?” I kept asking myself, but still I continued to pray.
My prayers were answered a few moments later when a young man, who was driving to work east on Tyler Road, noticed me and stopped and asked me if I was all right. (He later told me that he doesn’t usually work Saturdays, but by chance was scheduled to work that day.) I explained to him what had happened and he asked if he should call 911. I told him that I just wanted to go home and have my wife help me.
He then proceeded to help me into his car, drove me home, helped me into my house and said that he had to get to work. I asked him his name and he said it was “John” and then he was gone.
A few moments later, my wife came into the kitchen and asked what had happened. I explained to her how I fell and that a man by the name of “John” came to my aid and answered my many prayers!
She wanted to call 911 but I told her that I would be OK if I could just rest a few moments. She then proceeded to call our wonderful neighbors of 40 years, Joe and Mary Lou Kosmalski.
They at once told her to call 911 and immediately came over. My wife called 911 and within minutes the Van Buren Twp. Fire Department and the Huron Valley Rescue Emergency Team arrived. Every single one of them treated me with kindness and extreme care! I am so very grateful to each and every one of them.
Because we didn’t know “John’s” last name or where he lived, my granddaughter had put a sign in my yard that simply said, “THANK YOU JOHN”! We were hoping and praying that he would drive by and see it and it worked.
Earlier this week John Coleman, his wife and son stopped by to see how I was. Needless to say it was a very emotional reunion and I can never convey to him how very grateful and thankful I am for his heroic, angelic act of kindness.
At this time, I would like to publically and humbly thank: John Coleman, the Van Buren Twp. Fire Department, the Huron Valley Ambulance Rescue Emergency Team, and Joe and Mary Lou Kosmalski for doing EVERYTHING they did for me that day.
The Kosmalskis continue to help me and my wife out daily. They are not just our friends, but our extended family! I’d also like to thank Sam & Rita Kennedy for all of their support and kind deeds they have showered us with. These remarkable men and women … ANGELS … will be in my prayers daily and, again, I can’t thank them enough!
Van Buren Township