Dialing Wrong Number Saves Woman’s Life

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio -- A woman experiencing a medical emergency dialed the wrong number, and it may have saved her life.

Loretta Smith, 70, was at home in Cuyahoga Falls Saturday.

She had not felt well all day.

"So I decided to sit down on my bed and just lay down and my arm just went dead, paralyzed, and I went to reach for my arm and I just fell on the floor, and I laid there for a while, thinking of all kinds of things because I couldn't move," Loretta said.

Loretta said after a few minutes, she was able to move the fingers on her left hand.

"I guess I kicked my dresser with my left foot, and the telephone landed right in front of me by my hand, you know.  Of course I started punching numbers and I thought I was calling my son," she said.

But when Loretta dialed her son's number, she was off by one digit.

The person she actually called was Kenny Crater, 28, a Barberton native, who now lives in Broomfield, Colorado.

At first, he didn't answer the unfamiliar number, but after Loretta called several times, Kenny called back.

"First thing she said was, 'I'm having a stroke,' and I didn't know who it was and I didn't recognize the number so I was like, what's your address? I said what's your address and I'll send an ambulance over to your house," said Kenny in a telephone interview.

"I thought, I wonder if he's gonna call," Loretta recalled.

He did call, then a dispatcher called Loretta.

"Loretta... this is the police department, did you call somebody about maybe having a stroke?” the dispatcher asked.

“Yes,” Loretta answered.

“Ok, are you having a stroke?" said the dispatcher.

“Yes, I'm paralyzed on one side," was Loretta's response.

Doctors at Summa Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, where Loretta was treated, said it's a good thing Kenny called for help right away.

"The window is three hours from the time symptoms begin 'til you get the medication.  After that, it becomes more dangerous and not as helpful," said Dr. Joseph Nienaltowski, director of Patient Care Experience at the hospital.

Kenny says he does not feel like a hero.

"I can't imagine someone calling anybody, saying, 'I'm having a stroke,' and you not just give them the common courtesy of calling 911 for them," Kenny said.

"I feel great and that's all because I got good care.  I'm thankful for being here and I thank Kenny for taking action, too. I know he doesn't want to be a hero, but he is in my eyes," Loretta said.

On Sunday, Loretta called Kenny in Colorado and thanked him for his help.

She regained movement on her right side and was released from the hospital Thursday evening.

Loretta said, looking back, she probably should have called 911 first, but said whenever she’s needed help, her son is always the first person she calls.