STATEN ISLAND, New York -- Over the past 13 years, Lisa Sweeney has come to know the names, addresses and faces along her Staten Island postal route like the back of her hand. So when she noticed a growing pile of mail and out-of-place trash bins in front of a home owned by an elderly woman, her instincts immediately kicked in.
"I'm just aware of everything," she said. "It's a very quiet, quaint area that I deliver the mail, so anything out of the ordinary, a light bulb goes off in my head."
Concerned, she called police.
"I called 911, and said, 'I have a feeling that this woman is in her house, that's she's been there for quite a few days,'" Sweeney said.
In fact, 87-year-old Marie Boyer had slipped and fallen four days earlier and was lying helpless and alone on her bedroom floor.
"When I fell to the ground, I couldn't get up again," Boyer said. "Because I had a lot of damage to my body before, and it made it difficult."
Boyer did not have a phone nearby, and when she called out for help, no one could hear her.
"The windows were closed, and I kept on calling out and telling people to call 911," she said. "But nobody could hear me. So that went on for like three days. That's when I was getting dehydrated. I didn't want to die that way. I don't think anybody would want to die in that kind of circumstance."
When police arrived, they broke through a back window to get inside and rescue Boyer, as Sweeney stood outside praying.
"When they came out, they told me she was alive," Sweeney said. "And I cried, because I was just happy she was alive."
Boyer had no recollection of the rescue.
"I must've passed out at one point, because I don't remember the police coming or anything," she said. "I knew enough about her to know that if anybody would know, she would."
Since Sweeney's heroic efforts, the two have become almost like family. In fact, Sweeney and her son were both guests at Boyer's recent 87th birthday. She also regularly visits Boyer's new home at a nearby senior center.
"I think she's very special," Boyer said. "I don't think she just thinks about herself. She thinks about others."
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Postal worker saves woman who had fallen inside home