Ice-spill victim honors youth’s kindnessJanell Norman set out in the 19-degree day to walk her dog Oliver, a black-Lab mix, about 4 p.m. Dec. 5, expecting a stroll through Glen Park.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Janell Norman set out in the 19-degree day to walk her dog Oliver, a black-Lab mix, about 4 p.m. Dec. 5, expecting a stroll through Glen Park.
As the two went along the road near the Glen Park pool, Janell’s feet hit black ice and came out from under her.
She felt bad pain in her ankle and knew something was wrong. Realizing she didn’t have her cell phone, she began to worry.
“I didn’t know what to think,” Janell said, “I just knew I needed help.”
She lay in the roadway as daylight waned and wondered if she should try crawling to her truck in the pool parking lot, or at least to the side of the road.
Janell wondered if she’d be there that night when police came to patrol the park.
She felt cold. Thoughts of frostbite and hypothermia crossed her mind.
It was about then that 17-year-old Devin Christopherson came walking through Glen Park. He chatted by cell phone with his girlfriend.
When Christopherson first spotted Janell, he thought she was playing with Oliver, who seemed excited.
Next he heard her voice saying, “Sir! Excuse me sir…”
Just as his girlfriend began to wonder what was happening, he quickly told her goodbye, realizing Janell was in trouble.
“I knew something had to be wrong,” said Christopherson.
Janell asked the young man to try calling her husband, Mike Norman. She knew she needed medical attention but wanted to avoid the expense of an ambulance trip.
Christopherson stayed with Janell for the minutes it took Mike to arrive at Glen Park.
The young man said he only knew he didn’t want her trying to get up -- he couldn’t tell exactly what was wrong with her ankle but knew it was causing her a lot of pain.
He said he doesn’t have any emergency medical training except for helping his mother, who has some health challenges. He said besides nature, his interests include graphic design and fishing.
When Mike arrived, he and Christopherson got on either side of Janell to carry her to the car. The Normans then sped off the hospital.
Janell said the fall broke two weight-bearing bones in her ankle.
Doctors told her she was lucky to have gotten help so soon because that makes for a better “set” for the bones and faster healing time.
Had she tried to put weight on the ankle or gotten too cold or lost consciousness or gone into shock, her injury and healing could have gone much differently.
As it was, she had a hard cast for about six weeks, then got around for another six weeks with a combination of a medical “boot,” crutches, and a wheelchair.
Janell said, “I have 100% recovery because I got help right away.”
Christopherson said he was a little late getting home Dec. 5. His dad questioned him, at first not believing the story.
As Janell healed, she reflected on the young man’s kindness, realizing some people would not have wanted to get involved and thinking how rendering help in a medical emergency can result in liability.
The more she thought about it, the more compelled she felt to find her helper and thank him properly.
Janell tracked him down through a combination of calling the high school and looking on Facebook -- where she recognized a picture of him holding a big fish.
She didn’t quite feel right about sending a “friend” request but luckily found his home phone number and called.
She asked to see Christopherson again -- meeting him in Glen Park Friday, near the spot where she’d fallen.
She presented him with an “Award of Excellence for Outstanding Citizenship,” as well as an undisclosed amount of cash.
Janell said since May is usually the month when outstanding young people are honored, it felt like the right time.
Christopherson admits he’s shy and didn’t care much about the award or a newspaper story, but said to Janell: “I’m just glad I got to hear from you again.”
He said he had wondered how she was doing and wanted to know if she was OK.
He said he never thought twice about helping Janell, “I couldn’t just leave her there.”
In the past, Janell hadn’t carried a cell phone while walking Oliver but said, “I do now.”