MONMOUTH — He’s never seen her face, never heard her voice. He doesn’t know her name.
But Leonard Crocker believes he just might owe his life to the woman – the one who knelt over him in the road, doing who knows what to help keep him alive until the ambulance came. He’s anxious to express his gratitude, but how do you say thanks to someone who vanished as quickly as she appeared?
“She walked to her vehicle and drove away, never to be seen again,” said Herb Whittier, Crocker’s boss at Monmouth Public Works. “They’d love to say thank you, but to who?”
Crocker’s life crossed paths with the woman the afternoon of March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, moments after he suffered a significant heart attack. Crocker’s crew had just finished cutting trees along Macomber Road and loading the last of the tools into a truck when he headed around to the passenger’s side to climb into the cab. Moments later, co-workers found Crocker lying unconscious on the ground.
“Leonard went to get in the truck and the driver was waiting for him,” Whittier said. “He never got in the truck.”
Crocker, a lithe 61-year-old who has worked for Monmouth Public Works for the past five years, is a stickler about his health. He gets regular checkups and is meticulous about his diet because he has diabetes. He’d never had any signs of heart trouble, so that was the last thing on his co-workers’ minds when they saw their friend on the ground.
“The boys thought he was having a diabetic episode,” co-worker Bruce Balfour said. That’s what town officials told Crocker’s wife of 30 years, Cathy, when they called to let her know her husband was on the way to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. She continued to believe it was diabetes-connected on the drive from her Winthrop workplace to Lewiston, which she said helped keep her calm. She learned the truth when she got to the hospital.
“They told me it was a heart attack and it was serious,” she said.
The events are a blur to Leonard. He recalls walking around the truck, but after that all he remembers is “reaching for the door handle and spillin’ and then seeing my feet come in the ambulance door.”
The mystery woman helped in the time Crocker can’t remember. Whittier, who arrived shortly after Crocker went down, said the woman was with her boyfriend in a red Ford Mustang. They had just come from the Hannaford supermarket in Winthrop. The woman told Crocker’s co-workers that she nearly had completed classes to become a registered nurse. Whittier is unsure of all the woman did for Crocker but said she monitored his heart and breathing with a stethoscope. The woman got back into the car and left when Winthrop Ambulance Service arrived.
It turns out that the woman’s aid was just one of the events that converged to save Crocker’s life. John Dovinsky, Winthrop Ambulance’s chief, lives less than a mile away and rushed to the scene when he heard the call for help on the radio. A Winthrop Ambulance crew was training on Sanborn Road, less than 2 miles away, when the call came.
“This is really a miracle thing,” Whittier said.
At the hospital, Leonard Crocker had an emergency procedure to open five clogged arteries. He was fitted with a pacemaker when his heart stopped beating three times.
“The doctor said, ‘You scared the hell out of us,’” Crocker said, smiling.
The episode left him with significant heart damage. It’s unclear how much it will improve. Crocker, who said he feels a little better every day, is shooting for an eventual return to the public works crew.
Cathy Crocker and the work crew hope to express their thanks to the woman who stopped to help, but her identity remains a mystery.
Whittier and his crew speculate that the woman might live in East Monmouth, based on her route home from the grocery store, but that’s little more than a guess. The men continue to keep their eyes open for a red Mustang wherever they go about town. Leonard Crocker said the car is visible in video taken by a camera mounted on the Monmouth police cruiser that arrived the day of his attack, but the license plate never is in view.
“That’s mysterious, too,” Crocker said. “It adds to the drama.”
Whittier asked that anyone with information about the good Samaritan call Monmouth Public Works at 933-2650.
Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at: