Newspaper carrier rescues elderly man after fall in cold - KCTV5

Newspaper carrier rescues elderly man after fall in cold

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A Kansas City Star newspaper carrier found 77-year-old Tony Soetaert, just in time before frostbite settled in. A Kansas City Star newspaper carrier found 77-year-old Tony Soetaert, just in time before frostbite settled in.
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -

A former Shawnee mayor is in the hospital recovering after he fell and couldn't escape the cold.

A Kansas City Star newspaper carrier found 77-year-old Tony Soetaert, just in time before frostbite settled in.

Soetaert can barely move his blistered fingers. When paramedics brought him into Shawnee Mission Medical Center, his body temperature was only 92 degrees.

"It's hard to move them. They feel frozen," Soetaert said.

Soetaert slipped and fell while trying to push out his trash Monday morning at his home near West 59th and Garnett streets.

"He's doing a lot better. He is warming up. I don't think there will be any long-term affects," Soetaert's son Tom Soetaert said.   

When Tony Soetaert fell there was no one around. He crawled into his garage.

"I honked the horn, and I thought for sure that somebody would have heard it, but they didn't," Tony Soetaert said.

Then he began to scream, but at 4 a.m., no one was awake. No one, except Jeff Stockwell.

"I was through here about 4 a.m. and happened to hear someone cry out for help, and at first it didn't register. I thought maybe it was a cat or something making some noise," Stockwell said.

Stockwell said he almost kept going but decided to turn around.

"So I stopped. I heard him some more crying out, and as I approached the house, I saw him down on the ground," Stockwell said.

And just in time. His family says he may have been outside for about 45 minutes.

"Bare skin exposed, you can have injuries in about 15 minutes," said Dr. Kevin Koch with Shawnee Mission Medical Center.

Doctors say it is similar to getting a third-degree burn but the extreme opposite. Doctors say numbness in the fingers is one of the first signs.

"The first thing is a little bit of numbness, coldness if you don't get inside, skins starts turning white red, blisters that are fluid filled," Koch said.

Tony Soetaert and his family are thankful that the mail carrier was there to save him.

"I'm glad he did, I don't know whether or not I would have made it if he had he not been there to wait on me," Tony Soetaert said.

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