Garbage men save elderly man from extreme cold

Uribe Refuse workers Joe Sullivan and Erik Chapo rescue 83-year-old man who was lost in the cold.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Imagine being trapped in subzero degree temperatures with no idea how to get home. That nightmare became reality for 83-year-old Victor Vazquez, until two unlikely strangers offered a helping hand.

Uribe Refuse sanitation workers Joe Sullivan and Erik Chapo were nearing the end of their morning shift near 14th and Fletcher when they saw a troubling sight: a shivering man, knee-deep in snow, waving for help.

“It was the look on his face,” Sullivan said. “He knew he was in trouble.”

Sullivan and Chapo quickly pulled over to help him out. Sullivan says that Vazquez was not dressed for the cold weather and his face and hands were bright red.

“My first thing was to call 9–1–1 and get somebody there,” Sullivan said.

Vazquez was rushed to the hospital. A few moments later, police officers knocked on the door of the Lincoln house where Vazquez lives with his son, also named Victor, and his daughter-in-law, Isabelle.

“I came from my room and I hear a knock and when I walked by,” Isabelle said. “I didn’t see grandpa. There was a police officer, and I just knew it had something to do with grandpa.”

Isabelle and the younger Victor say that the elder Victor has Alzheimer’s. They describe him as being very proud and independent man, who can be unaware of his limitations at times.

“He even thinks he can get married again!” Isabelle exclaimed.

“I was impressed with these extreme weather conditions that he just got out of the house,” says the younger Victor.

Sullivan says he’s glad he and Chapo followed their instinct and rushed to help Vazquez.

“I’m grateful that we stopped for him,” Sullivan said. “And I don’t think anyone of our drivers would not have stopped for him.”

The younger Vazquez says he and his family were moved by Sullivan and Chapo’s poise and selflessness in helping out his father.

“There’s no words that will express how thankful and grateful and blessed this family is have him for a second opportunity so he can continue living his life with his family,” Vazquez said.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, News