Willmar cops rescue stricken man, then shovel his driveway

[This post has been updated]

Your daily dose of bittersweetness today comes from the blizzard-weary land of Willmar, Minn., where the police department reports on its Facebook page that police officers shoveled a driveway after trying to save the life of an elderly man who had a heart attack while shoveling.

According to the department’s Facebook page:


That’s officers Josh Helgeson and Marco Vazquez.

The 84-year-old man didn’t have a pulse when Helgeson and Vazquez arrived, so they performed CPR and tried to revive him with a defibrillator. When an ambulance arrived a few minutes later, the officers helped load the man into the ambulance and then looked at the unshoveled driveway.

“So we decided to spend the taxpayers’ money shoveling for the next 10 minutes,” Officer Helgeson told me this afternoon.

The story doesn’t have a happy ending, however. The stricken man was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“It was probably the worst day of her life,” Helgeson said of the man’s wife, who has her own health problems and needed help getting in a friend’s car to get to the hospital. “The last thing she needed to worry about was a slippery driveway when she got home and had to deal with everything. It was the least we could do.”

“I talked to the wife, who had called it in. I can’t feel any more sorry for her,” Officer Vazquez said. “She had just had hip surgery or damaged her hip. She was on a walker, which is why she couldn’t run out and help him.”

“It’s just one of the things you do and you do it because you care about the people you work for in the city and it is what it is,” said Helgeson, a Wood Lake, Minn., native who says he didn’t even tell his wife about the incident. She saw it on Facebook like thousands of other people who are offering tributes to the officers.

“We never expected to get any recognition for this,” Vazquez, a Willmar native, said. “We never expected for it to have this big an impact. We were just helping another citizen out, which is why we’re on the road in the first place. We’re glad it’s having a positive reaction.”

(h/t: Paul Tosto)