The amputee was lying in the hot sun screaming for help for hours, but no one could hear until a meter reader came along on his route.
Watering his newly planted fruit trees has become a daily routine for Bill Christian of Roman Forest. But on Thursday morning he got a little too close to the ditch in his backyard.
"I guess I got too close or hit a place, or leaning or I didn't pay attention to it until I fell," Christian said.
Without his cell phone or Life Alert, the 81-year-old amputee lay there on the embankment in the hot sun.
He said, "I was hoping and praying that someone would come by."
By chance, meter reader Jeffrey Franklin was on a route that he changed at the last minute.
"So I probably would have missed him doing all the watering and the whole thing, that's a godsend."
As he made his rounds, something in the far distance caught his attention.
"I hear help, help," Franklin recalled.
As the cry continued, he found his way to the origin.
"I came straight back here," Franklin said. "I saw that he is wrapped up in his chair. He asked if I could help him."
After more than two hours in near triple digit heat, Christian was discovered by a man who should have been working a different route.
Roman Forest Police Chief Stephen Carlisle said, "He heard him crying for help. He looked in the right direction at the right time, and he saw somebody who needed his help and he ran to him. To me, he is a hero."
So when he comes out to water again, Christian will be thinking of the first time he met his new friend.
"Thank God," Christian said. "I knew that he would do something."
Accu-Service, the company where Franklin works, had a cake and gift card waiting for him at work Friday morning. And Chief Carlisle plans to present him with the Chief Accommodation Award.
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