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Jumping in to help. (The Goodness of America).

Carolyn Kelly, 81, and Harlem and Nina Hutchinson (90 arid 83, respectively) had been residents of the Glen Retirement Village in Shreveport, Louisiana, for about a year when, shortly after 4:30 p.m. on September 1st, the Hutchinsons were driving near a pond at the retirement complex and Mr. Hutchinson accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. The car lurched out of control and plunged into the pond.

Kelly heard the accident and, after calling 911, shed her outer clothing and rushed to the scene, jumping a fence on the way. Mr. Hutchinson managed to drag himself to safety, but his wife remained trapped. Kelly, an accomplished swimmer, jumped into the pond, swam to the passenger side of the partially submerged vehicle, and was able to keep Mrs. Hutchinson's head above water until firefighters arrived. "She seemed to be getting weaker and weaker," Kelly later recalled. "And those boys [the firefighters] that came in after I called 911 got there in nothing flat. They took her out of my arms and took care of her."

The Hutchinsons were taken to Louisiana State University Hospital, where Mr. Hutchinson was reported in good condition. Sadly, however, Mrs. Hutchinson died early the next morning, apparently from health problems only indirectly related to the accident. According to relatives, she had a lifelong fear of drowning and had been plagued by a heart ailment.

Luther Sharbono, a fire district chief with the Shreveport Fire Department, described Carolyn Kelly as "definitely a hero," and department chief Kelvin Cochran noted that while such heroism seems more common since last year's September 11th tragedy, "for a senior citizen, someone 81 years old to do it, is absolutely incredible."

After news of Kelly's courageous response to the crisis spread both nationally and abroad, a nephew in India called her after viewing a CNN report. In a somewhat droll postscript, Kelly told Shreveport Times reporter John Andrew Prime that not until later did she remember that a few months earlier two large snakes had been found in the pond. "If I had remembered the snakes," she said with a smile, "I might not have gone in the pond."
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Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Date:Nov 4, 2002
Words:361
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