Neighbors respond to elderly man’s fatal fall

We saw this heartbreaking but compassionate story posted on Facebook about the neighborhood’s response to a man in need. The author, Kurt, has agreed to let us re-post it here:

Wednesday afternoon, I picked up [my child] from a friend’s house nearby. We drove about a block in the Jeep toward home before pausing at an intersection as an elderly man started to cross the quiet corner at 75th and Earl.

The man stumbled on the curb edge and went down face first in the street. He didn’t move. He didn’t spring up.

I pulled over and got out hoping I could help him to his feet. His glasses were pushed aside and his eyes were open, and he struggled to move his mouth. His little knit hat was bloodied. He couldn’t reply to my questions about whether he was OK or needed an ambulance. So I called 911.

A woman came out of her corner house while I talked to the medic dispatcher. The man’s eyes closed.

A man approached walking his dogs. We rolled over the old man, revealing a large gash in his forehead. The man with the dogs began CPR. The sirens approached.

More people stopped. A neighbor and her son checked for a pulse. The woman from the corner brought out blankets.

The medics arrived and went to work on the man in the street. [My child] stood by, watching it all. I told neighbors and medics what we saw.

A woman who checked on the man regularly arrived. “His name is Mac. He’s 92. His wife died a few years ago. He lives alone and I bring him meals. He likes to walk.”

In the back of an ambulance the medics continued CPR. They had cut off layers of warm clothing. An old jacket, a heavy wool shirt, a flannel and a long sleeve t-shirt.

[We] drove home. Sad and shocked.

At 10 p.m. the woman on the corner called to say Mac did not make it. That the woman who brought the meals wanted to make sure [my child] was OK.

Mac was a Merchant Marine who traveled the world. He had a son who died in his 40s. He was stubborn and mostly liked to eat the desserts she brought him. He still raked his own leaves and never went to the doctor.

She said he lived a good life.

I hope he felt me hold his hand. I hope he heard me say, “You’re OK. We’re here with you.”

26 comments on “Neighbors respond to elderly man’s fatal fall”

  1. This is why I love living in Ballard. Thank you for your act of kindness. I hope it is repaid to you many times over.

  2. I am so glad he did not die alone but that someone saw it happen and was there. I hope he felt the love of the neighbors that gathered to comfort and help him. What a good example for the young child to see the love and concern from strangers.

  3. Thank you for sharing that with us. Falls are a common cause of death for the elderly. Glad to know he had a full life and there were very kind people with him at the end. When I go I hope it is quickly like that. It may be hard on the people around you but best for the person who does not spend a lot of time suffering.

  4. Thank you to the neighbors who stayed and helped Mac, and to Kurt, who stayed even with his son present and who shared this story.

  5. Thank you for stopping to help Mac He was much loved and willl be missed by his neighbors on 75 th & 29th

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about his passing. Thank you to everyone who helped out. We have a wonderful community.

    I’m curious if anyone knows if where he fell had a curb ramp? The lack of curb ramps in our neighborhood is a real safety issue for people with reduced mobility, and we have a lot of elderly people in our neighborhood, in addition to young families with strollers. We might want to advocate for more curb ramps to help prevent this type of event in the future.

  7. I lived across the street from Mac and Rosie my entire childhood. They were wonderful people!
    I am so sad but so happy that these people responded to help. Joanne I know you took great care of them.
    Thank you all for helping.

  8. Hello. There was no curb ramp where he lost his balance.

    I appreciate the kind comments here. It was a surreal thing to witness and attempt to help with, with my son by my side. The neighbors who responded were truly compassionate. The best you could hope for in your community. And the medics who responded worked tirelessly.

    I’m so sorry, for those who knew him, for the loss of Mac.

  9. @Jennifer,
    Disabled people that have difficulty walking actually have more trouble with ramps. Obviously they’re great for wheelchair-bound, but they’re not necessarily the most accommodating for everyone.

    The man walking his dogs that performed CPR sounds like a real hero– kudos

  10. Mac and Rosie were the corner anchors on our street. They’ve been in that little white house on the corner for 60 years. Rosie died 2 years ago – she was known fondly to passersby as the “Dog Lady” who always come out with a biscuit for dogs and their people. Dogs wouldn’t allow their walker to continue by without a stop to visit Rosie. For years, she went across the street every morning to biscuit up the neighbor’s elderly dogs who were spending their senior years in foster. Rosie used to take Mac on walks up until she could no longer walk, he was always about 15 feet following behind. Rosie’s death left a hole in Mac’s heart, he said he missed her every day. He continued to mow the lawn, cut back his beautiful wysteria in the front yard. It would take him multiple days to accomplish both tasks, but he wasn’t interested in help. He was a funny, simple, and warm-hearted guy. He will be sorely missed on our street.

  11. Thank you for those wonderful details, Jen Keeler. I’m going to come by your street with my son after school with the hopes of connecting with some neighbors. I hope that’s OK. Perhaps we’ll meet.

  12. Rosie and Mac welcomed us 5 years ago when we moved in across the street. My dog still wants to go to Rosie’s for a treat. Thank you Kurt and other neighbors for being there with Mac in is final minutes. I’m sure he felt your presence. We’ll miss seeing him working for days on his yard and wisteria – never accepting help. Rosie and Mac are reunited.

  13. I had the pleasure of cleaning house on occasion in past couple of years for Mac. What a wonderful man. And the stories he would tell of his youth on the farm then in the merchant marines. I always enjoyed hearing his tails. He was strong and so kind hearted. I take comfort in knowing he and Rosie are together again. Rest in peace my friend. ❤🙏❤

  14. Blessings to all who were there with him in his last moments on this plane. I hope he is having a lovely reunion with his wife and son.
    This story brought tears to my eyes but I’m so glad he did, indeed, have someone to hold his hand and say “we’re here with you”. Truly glad for him and for you all to know you gave him that.

  15. So sad. I grew up just about 7 blocks away on 67th and 28th NW. I did not know either he or his family, but I probably went by their home on my bike (many times). I am thankful to those who helped him. I am sorry about his death, but I am thankful for good Ballardites who were with him when he passed away.

  16. Kurt& Henry it was good to meet you last night Thank you for taking the time to visit our neighborhood.
    Your kindness to our friend Mac was so very special . Knowing he was not alone was a blessing.
    In this messy world, lessons on compassion and caring for others are often lost, yours will not be forgotten.

  17. Thank you for your kindness to Mac when he fell. I am so sad to hear of his death. I talked to him often when I walked my dog by his house and he’d be raking leaves or mowing the grass. He’d tell stories about his own beloved dog or about the neighborhood or about the Merchant Marines. We always had a good chat. Feels like the end of an era to lose both Rose and Mac — the elders of the ‘hood and such good folks.

  18. Curb ramps may be difficult for some better curb is far more problematic than the curb ramp. Look at what just happened, stepping off of the curb. I can barely walk and things like stepping off of the curb are tough.

  19. I just learned of Mac’s passing and my heart is sad. Both Mac & Rosie will be missed. We live a few streets away but our dogs knew and loved Rosie, who carried treats with her on her walks, while most recently Mac had my husband wait while he went inside to grab a treat. They were a lovely, kind couple and we will feel their absence. Ballard is a little sadder today, but hopefully they inspire all of us to share smiles & stories.

  20. Thank you all for caring in times of need. Some wonderful neighbors in Ballard.

  21. Since moving to Seattle Mac and Rosie were part of my life . Every morning while Rosie was alive they walked pass our house. They always looked over and more often than not I would run out and exchange greetings. When Rosie became ill I would stop at their home and was greeted with smiles.
    After Rosie died I visited with Mac and listen to his many interesting stories.Repeatedly Mac told stories about his grandmother who love him more then anybody else. He remembered getting a new horse just because he, Mac was very special.How wonderful Mac shared these memories.
    Thank you Mac for being part of our community. Thank you for your sense of humor and your always smiling face. We all need each other to make Ballard a caring place to live.

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