Syracuse teen heeds injured man's cry for help

Saturday , June 07, 2014 - 12:41 PM

Standard-Examiner staff


Emily Thorstensen and her daughter Noelle were moving along nicely in their Standard-Examiner paper route throughout the Canterbury Crossing subdivision when one throw of Thursday's printed edition led to rescuing a man from hours of intense suffering.

Noelle, 13, was ever so slightly long on her aim for the porch of 69-year-old Robert Calder.

Unbeknownst to her, Calder was hours into a terrible ordeal.

Calder lost his balance and fell in his shower at about 11 p.m. Wednesday, seriously injuring his legs. He was unable to get out of the shower on his own power, and had been crouched over in pain for nearly seven hours.

Calder heard the door rattle when the newspaper hit, and called out for assistance.

"I didn't know (at first) what the voice was saying," Noelle said, admitting she was a little spooked initially. "I tried to figure out where it was coming from in the house."

But Noelle, an honor student at Legacy Junior High in Syracuse, kept listening.

"This time it (the voice) was saying 'help,'" she said.

Noelle ran back to the car where her mom was waiting and relayed the man's desperate plea.

"She said, 'Mom, I think someone's in there yelling for help," Thorstensen said.

Thorstensen approached the porch with her daughter and checked the door, which was unlocked. They entered and called out for Calder.

"At first he was kind of nervous 'cause he didn't know who was in his house," Noelle said. "We told him it was the newspaper carriers."

They spotted Calder in the fetal position on the floor of his shower. He asked them what time it is. Thorstensen responded it was about 5:50 a.m.

"I've been here for seven hours," Calder told them.

Calder explained to the mother and daughter he had called out for help when he first fell, but figured nobody could hear his yells. Calder's sister, Lynda Stacy, visits him every day at about 10 or 11 a.m., and he figured he would have to wait until then.

Thorstensen tossed Calder his robe and called his sister, who made her way to the home immediately. In the meantime, Thorstensen tried to comfort Calder, who thought he may have broken his kneecaps.

"I was surprised at how coherent he was," Thorstensen said. "I was trying to talk to him, get his mind on other things.​"

Stacy arrived and decided it would be too difficult to help Calder out of the shower without the help of an ambulance. Thorstensen was transported to Davis Hospital & Medical Center, where doctors determined he had strained several ligaments in his knees. He is also being examined for possible signs of pneumonia.

Calder has struggled with a host of health problems for decades, particularly mobility in his legs, his sister said, since he suffered a head-on collision with a drunken driver up Ogden Canyon in 1974.

But Calder has retained his good nature and sense of humor despite his struggles, Stacy said.

"He says, well I'll never be able to quit the newspaper because of (Thorstensen). ... he figures that she just saved his life," she said, smiling.

Stacy said she is touched and comforted by the Thorstensens' heroism and that they deserve praise for what they did.

“I just feel (Emily Thortensen) needs some special recognition for being such a Samaritan," Stacy said. "She's very special, she and her daughter both. ... We really appreciate her. She's a jewel."

Vaughn Jacobsen, production supervisor at Ogden Publishing Corporation, said he was happy to hear the deliverers were alert to the situation.

"We congratulate the carriers for being attentive to the people they see along their route," Jacobsen said.

He noted deliverers mitigating dangerous situations is "extremely rare," but he's seen it happen a handful of times over the course of 30 years in the industry. It typically occurs when a deliverer notices a scenario involving abuse, he said.

Newspaper deliverers contract their services with the Standard-Examiner and are not officially employed by Ogden Publishing.

Thorstensen credited her daughter, saying Noelle was inspired and courageous. Noelle was in fact filling in for her 11-year-old sister Ally, whose route it is. Paige, 9, also regularly helps with the route.

"I told my daughter, I said I know you were guided," she said. "You listened. I know she was an angel that day for him."

The two visited Calder on Friday to check up on him. Thorstensen said they were in the right place at the right time for a higher purpose.

"I know it was Heavenly Father who helped him," she said. "He could have been stuck there for another five hours."

Contact reporter Ben Lockhart at 801-625-4221 or Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Lockhart.

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