Update: Aug 26, 2019 10:45am CST
What started as a routine service call for three Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) employees ended up far from ordinary. Tune in on the SOPOD Network to hear how these men went from making repairs to saving a life. “From Pipeline to Lifeline: How Three VNG employees added Hero to Their Resume.”
“It certainly was an interesting situation,” said Doug Williams, operations mechanic for VNG. “In my 27 years with the company, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. We were blessed to have been able to save someone’s life.”
Williams, along with fellow operation mechanics Jason Suites and D’Aaron Brown, helped save the life of an elderly woman who lived in the apartment complex and had fallen in her kitchen three days before the crew arrived to make repairs. She had not eaten or had anything to drink in the days after her fall.
“We go to jobs in older buildings not knowing what we are going to find or see,” said Suites, who had been called to assist with the job. “D’Aaron told us he was hearing things coming from somewhere in the complex while in the basement. We really didn’t know what to think.”
Williams and Suites were dispatched to assist the younger mechanic on the job. When they arrived, he told them about the faint, muffled noises he was hearing and didn’t know if it was real or someone playing a joke.
“I didn’t know if the building was haunted or if someone was playing a joke with some type of recording device to try to scare us away,” said Brown. “And I didn’t want Doug and Jason to think I was crazy.”
Brown took the trio to the area where he was hearing the noise but no one else could hear it. They continued their work in the basement, hearing muffled sounds that appeared to be someone asking for help off and on for nearly an hour.
“It sounded like a small child, saying, ‘help, help, help,’ over and over,” said Williams. “We didn’t know where it was coming from, but it sounded far away.”
The team listened for a few minutes and decided to go outside and see if they could hear anything. When they couldn’t, they decided to knock on the first-floor apartment door where they thought the sounds were coming from. With no answer, they went back into the basement with their tools and the noises started again.
“We didn’t know if someone was hurt or being held against their will,” said Williams, “so we decided the best thing was to call the police to have them check out the situation.”
Once officers from the Norfolk Police department arrived, they showed them where they thought the “help” sounds were coming from on the first floor. They knocked on the door of the apartment, but with all the traffic and window air conditioning units running, they couldn’t hear anything.
As the police continued to knock, the calls for “help” that the team heard from the basement turned into, “I’m in the kitchen,” over and over.
“We brought the officers into the basement so they could hear the pleas for help and as soon as the police heard it, they radioed for assistance,” explained Williams. “They went to the front door where the sounds were coming from and kicked it in.”
Inside, they found a woman sprawled across the kitchen floor where she had been for nearly three days.
Paramedics rushed her to the hospital.
The female officer on the scene said that if our employees had not heard her crying out for help, she most likely would have died by the next day on her kitchen floor.
“It was a blessing that we were working in the basement that day,” said Suites. “We were blessed to be able to save a life that day.”