MASSILLON, Ohio – When Donnie Lance, 30, went on his routine postal route in Massillon back on August 16th, he had no idea his life would be changed forever by saving another life.
Lance says, “I was delivering on 12th Street, which is where Mrs. Jean Stewart lives.”
When Lance tried to open the screen door of 85-year-old’s home to enter the enclosed porch where her mailbox is located, the door was locked.
The next day, that same door was still locked.
“Knowing that she lives alone and her age and how active she is, I decided to just make sure she is okay.”
It was when Lance walked around to the side door of an enclosed mud room that he made the shocking discovery: Stewart lying on the ground unconscious, on a hot summer day.
“The green door is open and her head is laying on the step that leads into the house. Her legs are out that way and since the door is open, all I can see is her legs,” said Lance.
With homes in this neighborhood just 20-25 feet apart, it’s hard to believe that no one heard the victim’s cries for help. It is believed she had been lying inside that room, for at least 24-hours.
Stewart was unable to be part of our story and is now recovering at a nursing home after undergoing surgery for a broken hip.
The widow, who also lost her only child in 2009, is a member of nearby Massillon Baptist Temple.
Her pastor, whom she’s known for 11 years, praised the postal carrier for his keen intuition.
Pastor Cecil Thayer says, “He was very observant, and then he said that the Lord just led him to go around to the side of the house that day.”
Lance, who is a husband, father and army veteran, has been a letter carrier for only 4 years.
In honor of his actions, a plaque will now hang in the local post office lobby.
As for being called a hero, “People who jump on grenades and run into burning skyscrapers, that’s a hero. I’m just glad I was able to be used that day.”