Kindness of a stranger helps save a man's life

| 13 Sep 2017 | 02:37

By Laurie Gordon
— Monica Transier, a Sparta resident, was traveling on Glen Road in Jefferson on May 18, at about 9:15 am. A child for whom she babysat had forgotten an instrument needed for school and she had offered to deliver it. Fate had her there at that time and place for another reason: to help save a life.
Transier came upon a horrific accident. A man on a motorcycle had somehow collided with a truck and was lying in blood on the ground. His leg was managled and he was perhaps dead. Transier did not hesitate. She stopped her car and ran to the man. Once she realized he was alive, she positioned herself behind him so that if he did regain consciousness, he wouldn't try to move, She spoke to him in a calming voice.
“A lot of people drove by and didn't stop to help,“Transier said. “To me, it was just automatic. If it had been one of my six children or my husband, I would hope someone would stop.”
The driver of the truck called 911 and soon police were on the scene. Transier kept her post, reassuring the man all the while as the police got a tourniquet on his leg.
“This is going to hurt, buddy,” an officer said, even though the man was unconscious, as police put the tourniquet on. The man came to shortly afterwards.
“He immediately started screaming and tried to role over," Transier recalled. "But I was behind him so he could not.”
Next, someone came with oxygen. Transier stayed where she was and administered the oxygen to the man. The ambulance arrived and the injured man was taken away.
Transier had witnessed a terrible scene, but as the weeks passed, she wondered more and more about the stranger she had helped and whether he had made it through the ordeal. About a week after the accident, the driver of the ambulance called her to see if she was all right, given what she'd seen. Transier inquired about the man, but the ambulance driver didn't have any information about his identity or health.
Finally, a month later, a police officer called Transier and let her know that the man had lost his leg but had survived and had a long recovery ahead of him.
Last Tuesday, Transier received another phone call, this time from an official on behalf of Jefferson Township.
“They told me that the next night the Chief of Police wanted to present me with a Civilian Service Award,” she said. When she learned the man's identity was Tom Heller, Transier couldn't believe her ears. He was also from Sparta and his wife, Laura Heller, had taught one of Transier's daughters in school.
Laura Heller called Transier prior to the ceremony. She said Tom Heller had gone through seven operations since the accident and spoke of the bravery and perseverance he had demonstrated.
“She told me that after the accident it had been touch-and-go for a while and they weren't sure that he would make it,” Transier said. “He had broken his collar bone, had two brain bleeds, and lost a whole leg and had no use of one arm due to nerve damage.”
“My husband is an extremely determined and positive person,” Laura Heller said. “He has gone through a lot since the accident and will receive his first prosthetic in a few days.”
Regarding his left arm, there is no feeling but the Hellers are working with doctors in New York City to see what might be done to help. And then there is Monica Transier.
“You find it so hard to believe that there are people out there with that kind of passionate kindness who would help someone like that," Laura Heller said. "The accident was horrible yet she jumped right in the middle of it and kept Tom calm and helped as much as she could, as a perfect stranger to this man.”
Like Transier, Heller was astonished by the coincidence of having taught the daughter of the woman who, quite possibly, saved her husband's life. Heller said she and her husband are thankful for Transier's compassion and doing all they can to improve Tom's quality of life.
“We have six grandchildren and are just so thankful that he will be around to watch the grow,” Heller said. “We have a lot of gratitude toward Monica because without her, he truly might not have made it. She's an angel.”
Transier also admired the courage demonstrated by Tom Heller, and last Wednesday evening when she received the award, she got to meet him again under better circumstances.
“His attitude is nothing but positive and the strength in him is unlike most people,” Transier said. “I can't even explain how it felt to meet this man I'd seen so close to death a few months before.”
Jefferson Township and the Hellers are among those who consider Transier a hero, but she doesn't look at it that way.
“Going back to the day of the accident, the car in front of me and the car behind me did not stop," she said. "By the time I got to him, a man who had been in front of his motorcycle circled around to help. To those who did not stop, I just don't understand it. I just did what I thought anyone would do. If this can be any sort of a lesson it's that people shouldn't be afraid to stop and help in an accident situation.”
She added, “The police later asked me, 'Why did you stop and help?' I told them that to me my automatic reaction was to get out of the car and help.”
That "automatic reaction," that kindness of a stranger, means a man will be able to see his grandchildren grow.