It was the ultimate case of being in the right place at the right time for a Wyoming man who discovered an unconscious woman when he delivered a newspaper to her home far earlier than usual.
Ben Morris is a circulation district manager who typically oversees the delivery of the Casper Star-Tribune from the paper’s office, but after a contractor quit, he set out to work a route.
On a whim, Morris, 55, decided to reverse the route direction “just for the fun of it,” the paper wrote.
"I for some reason said, 'You know, I got more than enough time. I'm going to ride backwards to see how it is,'" Morris told INSIDE EDITION.
Morris pulled up to Edith Brekken’s Westridge Place home and discovered the 77-year-old woman lying face down on her icy front porch at 4:15 a.m. on Friday, January 8.
“We think that she fell inside and she couldn’t reach her phone, so she crawled outside… and tried to use the steps and the railing to get herself up. She laid out there for a while and then, what happened is a mystery,” her daughter, Erin Raabe, told IE on Wednesday.
Morris immediately sprang into action, running to the elderly woman to check her pulse.
"I'm leaning right down into her face, (yelling) 'Ma'am! Ma'am! What's going on here?" he said. "I noticed her door was ajar and there was this little daschund that came close and started barking... then she stirred at that point."
The former operating room surgical technician immediately called 911 and after he saw that she was breathing shallowly, went into the home to gather blankets to cover the woman while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
“She had laid out there for two or two-and-a-half hours,” Raabe told IE.
Temperatures had reached a frigid 17 degrees, dangerous conditions to be exposed to for so long.
Had Brekken remained outside for 30 more minutes, she could have died of hypothermia.
“Her body temperature had reached 87 degrees,” Raabe said.
Brekken’s home is usually the 73rd stop along the delivery route, but because Morris had decided to go in reverse, it was the third stop. Had he went the usual way, it would have been another hour before he reached Brekken's house.
That thought remained with Morris as he continued on his way to finish the route.
"The whole route, a million things are going through my head. That's when it started to hit me," Morris said. "I've learned that an hour by yourself in a vehicle ... is a lot of time to think.
"I was raised Roman Catholic, I went to church all my life... I don't call myself very religious, though... but it sure made me think," he continued. "I've done this route... very many times. I know it inside, outside upside down and I've never done it in this order. Never."
“It was a power greater than ours that took care of it,” Raabe said.
Brekken has since been recovering at a local hospital. She will be moved to a nursing home where she will undergo rehabilitation for about three weeks, her daughter said. She is still at risk of losing toes to frostbite.
Morris told IE he looks forward to when Brekken has recovered.
"I'm hoping someday ... down the road, we can sit down to lunch," he said.
Morris has visited Brekken while she heals, bringing her a copy of the newspaper that included an article about their shared experience.
“He has come up to check on my mom, God love him,” she said. “I talked to him on the phone and I said ‘I can hardly talk, I’ll probably cry’ and he said ‘Oh I probably will too.’”
“My mother has been getting the newspaper for as long as I can remember and you know, it paid her back,” Raabe said.