(CHICAGO, IL) – Mike Roberson experienced a death in his family and a fire in his home the same week. Those two tragedies could have made him ignore a car accident happening in front of him, but Mike put his grief aside when yet a third catastrophe came his way. His American Red Cross training kicked in, helping him rescue a family whose van had overturned in a pond off Interstate 57.
While in Mississippi for his uncle’s funeral, Mike’s fiancé called to tell him a fire destroyed the home they shared with Mike’s six-year-old daughter in Naperville. They lost a beloved pet in the fire, but they were ok and were staying with a relative. Before he left to drive back home to Illinois, Mike’s aunt packed some of his uncle’s clothes to replace those he had lost in the fire.
As Mike was on his way home, he watched in disbelief as a van spun out of control and went out of sight on the dark, slippery road south of Champaign. He pulled his car over and attempted to call 911, but was disconnected. His next instinct was to help anyone who was hurt, so he grabbed a flashlight and followed the sounds of a woman’s cries to help save her children. The van had rolled down an embankment and landed upside down in a pond. Mike recalled seeing little hands reaching out from the broken windows. One by one, he pulled out four kids and heard the woman yell there were more. He eventually pulled out four more surviving members of the family.
Trained in first aid and CPR from the Red Cross, Mike showed an older daughter how to help her mother who wasn’t breathing. He grabbed his uncle’s warm clothes from his car to prevent the rest of the family from going into shock from being exposed to the cold water.
“It must have been some divine intervention that I was put behind that van,” Mike said. “Deep down that training made a world of difference. I just knew what I had to do.”
Mike lost his phone in the pond as he pulled the family members out of the van, but first responders were able to ping his location and send paramedics.
A few days later while Mike and his family picked up the pieces from their burned home, he received a call to attend the funeral for the patriarch of the family who didn’t survive the accident. It was the second funeral he attended in a month.
“I hugged and shook so many hands,” he said. “It was the best healing experience and now we’re connected. We all know loss, but sometimes it brings people together.”
The Good Samaritan Award is presented by USG to an outstanding individual(s) who courageously and selflessly responded to an unusual, significant or unexpected crisis.
The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.
Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois