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Teens save the day for injured neighbor



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Lindsay and Eva Wentworth of Dryden are happy about helping injured neighbor who had slipped on a snowy driveway on New Year’s Eve. photo by Catherine Minolli.
January 09, 2008
DRYDEN — Three teens trying to stay on top of the heavy snowfall on New Year's Eve prevented a mishap from becoming a tragedy.

Lindsay Wentworth, 13, her 14-year-old sister Eva and their pal Joe Rettell, 15, were out shoveling snow at their Hunter Lane home sometime after 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 when they heard someone scream for help.

The teens dumped their shovels and followed the sound, which made a world of difference for Lois Pawlaczyk.

Pawlaczyk had slipped and fallen on her Cross Creek road driveway and she knew she couldn't get up.

"It was scary," Lindsay says. "Her foot was twisted the other way. We saw a bone sticking out."

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Joe Rettell of Imlay City says it was a natural reaction to help someone in need.
Though they were "freaked out," the teens remained calm. Joe took off his coat and placed it underneath Pawlaczyk to help keep her warm. It was a natural response, Joe says.

"I heard screaming so I just booked over there to see what was going on," he says. "When I saw her lying there, I just took my coat off to make sure she would be warm."

The teens ran to a neighboring home to call 911 and then waited with Pawlaczyk until the ambulance arrived.

"It took about 15 minutes or so," Lindsay says. "She (Pawlaczyk) let us go in her house and get some blankets, and we called her sister for her when the ambulance got there. She was like shaking really bad."

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Their rescue efforts weren't over yet, though. Lindsay says the teens held a blanket over Pawlaczyk while EMS personnel worked to stabilize her injury and put her into the rig.

"They had us hold the blanket over her head so snow wouldn't keep falling on her," Lindsay says.

The teens' grace under pressure was "a Godsend," Pawlaczyk says.

"They were marvelous, they really were," she says. "They were very helpful, they were there when I really needed them."

Though she was in a lot of pain, Lindsay says Pawlaczyk made sure to express her appreciation, which made the teens feel "like really good."

"She said 'thank you,'" Lindsay says. "She was grateful and she said 'whoever raised you raised you right,' and it felt like really good that we could be helping her."

Pawlaczyk, a retired government transportation agency worker, continues to express her gratitude from a hospital bed at Lapeer Regional Medical Center. She underwent surgery on Jan. 2 to repair her demolished ankle, and is recovering in the center's transitional care unit.

"Those kids deserve huge kudos," Pawlaczyk says.

Though she didn't spend New Year's Eve as originally planned, Pawlaczyk is trying to look on the bright side.

She was on her way to a party at her sister's house when she fell, her arms loaded down with homemade guacamole dip and chips for the festivities.

"My feet just went out from under me. I was stone cold sober, let's make that perfectly clear," Pawlaczyk chuckles. "Though they say it doesn't hurt as much if you're drinking."

Conditions were tough enough for the most adamant teetotaler, and especially difficult for someone who hadn't dealt with a Michigan winter in 39 years.

"I just moved back to Dryden from Nevada in September," Pawlaczyk says. "I missed the four seasons and decided to come back...ha, ha, ha."

Along with getting a stiff reminder of winter weather trends, Pawlaczyk says she realized something else as well.

"I guess I'm too old to rush," she laughs. "I had already started the car, so at least it was warm in the car if I would have gotten there."

Pawlaczyk says she's trying to flesh out all of the "good reasons" that her New Year's Eve ended up the way it did.

"I missed a good party at my sister's, I know that, but at least I didn't have to worry about driving home in the snowstorm," she says.

Lindsay and Eva's mom, Christie Wentworth, is also seeing the bright side of things. She says she's proud of the teens, and is happy they were there to help.

"If the kids weren't out shoveling, I don't know how long (Pawlaczyk) would have been laying out there," Christie says. "The EMS workers said they did a real good job. They did a real good deed for New Year's Eve. I'm very proud of them."

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