CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio -- Dialing the right wrong number may have saved the life of a Cuyahoga Falls woman.
Loretta Smith, 70, said a complete stranger many states away came to her rescue Saturday when she fell ill.
Around 4 p.m., Smith said, her right arm went dead. Soon the whole right side of her body wouldn't respond. And then she fell to the floor.
"I couldn't move," she said.
When she tried to stretch out, her left leg hit a table near her bed and knocked the telephone onto the floor.
Fearing she was having a stroke, she grabbed the phone with her left hand and tried to call her son, Wally Smith of Cuyahoga Falls.
In her haste, she misdialed by one digit. The phone rang and no one picked up. She tried again to no avail.
On the third call, Kenny Crater, 28, formerly of Barberton, Ohio, but now a junior sculpture major at Metropolitan State University in Denver, answered.
"It was a woman and she said 'I may be having a stroke,'" said Crater, who kept his Northeast Ohio area code as part of his phone number after moving out West.
Crater asked the caller, "Who are you calling, Ma'am?"
Smith said she replied, "I am trying to reach my son."
Although he was hundreds of miles away, Crater assured the woman that he would help her and asked her name and address so he could call for help.
Crater said he dialed 911 from his Ohio-oriented phone and the Brimfield Police Department back in Ohio answered.
Dispatchers there transferred him to Cuyahoga Falls.
About the same time, Smith was finally able to call her son who arrived at the house when paramedics and Cuyahoga Falls police arrived.
"They were wonderful," she said of her rescuers.
Smith was taken to Summa Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls where it was determined that she had suffered a mini-stroke, said Dr. Joseph Nienaltowski, director of patient care experience at the hospital.
She is still undergoing tests.
"She's a fighter," Nienaltowski said.
Smith said she will forever be thankful for Crater's actions.
"He saved my life," said Smith, who is retired. "I want this kid to be praised to high heaven."
Crater remains modest about his role in the rescue.
"I do not feel like I have done anything special," he said. "I didn't save her. She found me. She kind of saved herself. ... I made a phone call."
Smith said she'd like to do something special for Crater, to express her gratitude. She's thinking about paying the bill for his cellphone for a year.
Smith said Crater could easily have ignored a call from a number he didn't know.
"People have to know there are still good people in the world," Smith said. "He took the time to do this."
(c)2012 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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