Problem Solver: Good Samaritans come forward

Darien resident injured in fall thanks 2 men who came to her aid, calling them 'stars'

 Paula Wallrich

Paula Wallrich, of Darien, injured in a fall Dec. 8 in the Kenwood neighborhood, said the aid rendered by two anonymous men restores one's faith in humanity. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune)

The good Samaritans who helped an injured woman in the Kenwood neighborhood last month said they acted out of a sense of "duty to help our fellow man."

The men, who asked to remain anonymous, emailed the Problem Solver this week after friends forwarded the Jan. 16 column about Paula Wallrich to them.

Wallrich, 60, fell Dec. 8 while crossing the intersection of 49th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, fracturing her right wrist.

Several people came to her aid, including two tourists from Ohio who picked her up and carried her to the sidewalk.

Wallrich wanted to track down two others, who tended to her wound, then drove her to the emergency room at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Wallrich said the men waited with her until a doctor was available, then left.

She never got their names.

In the Jan. 16 column, the Darien resident said she simply wanted to thank them.

She has gotten her wish.

On Monday, Wallrich sent the men, both suburban Chicago residents, an email, calling them "stars."

"I am sure I said thank you the day of my injury, but I think you would like to know how many people, into the thousands, have heard about your kindness to me," Wallrich wrote. "It restores one's faith in humanity, that you … would set your own plans aside to come to the aid of a complete stranger."

The men said they were just happy to help.

"We both feel we did nothing that might be considered 'above and beyond' in such a situation," one of the men said. "While we hope that this small tale might remind your readers of our duty to help our fellow man, Paula's kind words of appreciation are sufficient recognition."

The men said they were driving to a birthday party in the Hyde Park neighborhood and took a wrong turn.

"It was a treacherous, snowy evening, as I recall it, and I missed our exit off Lake Shore Drive onto 47th Street," one of the men said.

The two were driving in separate cars, one following the other. When they looped back to 49th Street, they saw Wallrich fall, they said.

One of the men dropped his family at the party, then went back to check on Wallrich, they said.

"We waited with her on that corner for about 10 minutes for the ambulance. When it didn't show up, we asked her if it would be ok to just bring her directly to the University of Chicago emergency room," one of the men wrote in an email.

At the hospital, they stayed with Wallrich for about 15 minutes, trying to reach her family members.

"The staff at the University of Chicago emergency room reassured us that she was going to be cared for quickly, so we asked her if there was anything else we could do, then we left the ER to go to our party," one of the men said.

Although both men are doctors, helping Wallrich was something anyone could have done, they said.

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