Jennifer Anderson knew something was wrong at about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday when she walked toward the front door of a Northwest Boise home.
The newspaper carrier for the Idaho Statesman saw the front door of 96-year-old Melvin Williamson’s residence slightly ajar, with a cane poking out. It was the same as the day before, when she thought Williamson was up late and had the door propped open to allow fresh air to come inside.
“When I drove up, I noticed that his paper was still there from the day before and that the cane was still in the exact same position, which immediately was a red flag,” Anderson said. “He always picks up his paper. He never accumulates papers, ever. And the fact the cane was still propped in the same position meant someone was home and they should have gotten the paper.”
The door wasn’t open enough for Anderson to see in, and she didn’t want to walk inside someone’s home. She called the Boise Police Department and asked for an officer to come out and check on Williamson. The officer found him on the floor, where he had lain for two days.
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“It must have been Monday sometime he had fallen and couldn’t get up,” said Kim Gray, Williamson’s granddaughter. “He said he tried and tried to get up, and he couldn’t. His voice was very weak so he was just hoping someone would come by, and it ended up being Jennifer.”
Anderson, who has delivered papers for about two years, said she always takes her customers’ papers to the door. She delivers 200 papers on two routes during the week and an additional 70 papers on Sunday. There are a number of elderly folks on her routes, Anderson said, and she doesn’t want them to have to walk far to get their papers.
She drove past Williamson’s home Wednesday after she completed part of her route and saw a police car and a fire truck outside the residence. She didn’t stop and didn’t know how he was doing.
“The whole rest of my evening my stomach was just turning, wondering if he was OK or what had happened,” Anderson said.
Gray called her on Thursday to let her know Williamson was being treated at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center but was OK.
It’s a great testament to why it’s good to have newspapers delivered.
Kim Gray in praising newspaper carrier Jennifer Anderson for making a call that saved her grandfather’s life
It could have turned out much differently, Gray said, and she’s grateful Anderson called to report her grandfather might be in trouble.
“People need to know this gal saved his life,” she said. “He would be dead if she had not been paying attention.”
Jim Wall, the Statesman’s director of audience development, also praised Anderson.
“This is an example of one of our independent contractors going above and beyond the call of duty,” Wall said.
Anderson and Gray met in person Friday at St. Luke’s. Gray gave Anderson an angel figurine. Anderson gave her and Williamson a bouquet of paper flowers and a pencil holder crafted from leftover newspaper ads. Williamson thanked Anderson for saving him.
Williamson and his late wife, Shirley, who died in 2002, used to work for the Statesman. Melvin was a facilities worker and Shirley answered phones.
Melvin Williamson, who wasn’t looking for attention, asked not to be photographed and didn’t want a photograph of him used for this story.
Even after going through that ordeal, he kept his sense of humor.
“He told me Wednesday, ‘Kim, have you ever laid on the floor and watched TV upside-down for two nights?’ No, granddad, I can’t say I’ve ever done that,” Gray said.