Retired couple helped by hotel manager after being hit in traffic
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Complete strangers stepped in to help a retired couple after what could’ve been a deadly accident.
Rita and Bob were on their way to a church in Nashville for New Year’s Eve when they stopped about halfway to stay at the Hampton Inn in Christiansburg.
They walked to get some food at a restaurant across the street. That’s when their lives changed forever.
“We didn’t need a car, you know, it’s just across the street. And so we, we know, we looked both ways we’re seniors. And we were almost across the street when I remember screaming, ‘He’s gonna hit us’ and all I remember was seeing these headlights came out of nowhere,” said Rita.
The driver stopped after hitting the couple and is cooperating with police.
Rita says she doesn’t remember much after that.
“So the story we learned then was our hotel manager Logan was on the scene, but she told us the next car back were local husband-and-wife paramedics from the area,” said Rita.
“Whenever I got it out there, no, there weren’t any emergency crews on the scene yet. So, I just wanted to be sure that those folks had been told they were on their way, and they had been.”
“They didn’t think I was going to survive,” said Rita.
“I hopped over to the gentleman, and I said, you know, are you a guest at the hotel? He said yes,” said Hampton Inn Christiansburg/Blacksburg General Manager Logan Kessinger.
Kessinger says she stayed on the ground by their side until ambulances arrived. She said so much happened that night but she remembers Rita grabbing her hand.
“And said pray me with me and kind of looked at her and said, ‘Well, I’m not great at it, but I’ll give it a shot,” said Kessinger.
Emergency crews quickly came, took them to LewisGale hospital with major injuries. Kessinger chose to ride in the ambulance with Bob.
“I knew he was a guest at our hotel. I could help maybe get some of that from his room, you know, with his permission, be able to help fill the gap so that the hospital would have all the information that they needed,” said Kessinger.
“Then when she tried to get in to see me, that’s when they asked if I knew this person, and I didn’t, but somewhere in that state of mind, I said, she’s my sister. I knew whoever wanted to see me was supposed to see her. And then you’re right. She stayed with me,” said Rita.
The entire night, Logan – a stranger --became their bridge. Staying in contact with their family and the hospital staff.
“And here’s somebody that just walked right into that emergency department for the sheer purpose of caring for someone that they don’t even know,” said Julie McElwee, Emergency Department Director at LewisGale Montgomery.
Nurses say Kessinger being that link between the family and the patient ended up helping them too.
“The pandemic that has been very difficult for them--- for the community, it’s difficult for emergency department staff and to have her be to be with him, to show compassion --having somebody at the bedside that can be that continuous link for them is just incredible,” said McElwee.
Now, the couple and LewisGale are thanking the heroes for being what they call the angel everyone needed that night.
“We recognize that that was not something you had to do. It was something that you really wanted to do,” said Alan Fabian the CEO of LewisGale Montgomery.
Kessinger calls what happened a full circle moment, because what happened to Bob and Rita also happened to her a year ago when her husband had a major heart attack.
“Had that girl not answered the phone, he wouldn’t have made it,” said Kessinger.
Rita says Kessinger was exactly what they needed when they needed it most. She was family.
“She was an angel sent by God to me, right when I needed her, and I am forever grateful,” said Rita.
“I truly believe that I saw a miracle work that night and we are bonded for life,” said Kessinger.
The paramedics who helped that night came forward after seeing this story; they are Jason Gifford and his fiancee, Erin Jones. Bob and Rita want to thank them for being the second set of angels they needed, too.
Rita and Bob are still recovering from fractures and head injuries.
Bob has a bit more healing to go but they say they believe he will get better soon after being transported to a rehab hospital near their home in Pennsylvania.
The couple says they’ve been overwhelmed and are grateful for the amount of support they’ve received from the entire hospital staff and the community.
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