Disabled Man Rescues Neighbor

American flag
AP
A recent power outage in the Chicago suburb of Orland Hills had 80-year-old Azezeh Abdallah looking for a candle in her darkened kitchen. She mistakenly ignited a firecracker and could have perished in the ensuing explosion, were it not for the actions of John Askew, Gretchen Carlson reports.

In spite of his own disability, Askew didn't hesitate to come to Ms. Abdallah's rescue.

Askew had always wanted to be a police officer. He applied and qualified for the job shortly after reaching the cutoff age of 35. But, health problems, which included two heart attacks, forced an early exit from duty after just five years. A subsequent career as a security officer ended after Askew lost his leg to diabetes.

At 53, Askew is retired and spends most of summer's warm weather days talking with friends on his front walk. That is where he was last month when there was an explosion just next door.

"I noticed Ms. Abdallah standing on her patio and saw that she didn't have a hand!" recalls Askew.

He made his way up the sidewalk in his wheelchair, but when he got to the grass, his chair got stuck. So he literally crawled the last few yards to his neighbor's patio.

"Ms. Abdallah doesn't speak English so in grabbing her and bringing her back to the patio, I was gesturing to her to sit down and try to calm down," he says.

Askew then wrapped Ms. Abdallah's hand to stop the bleeding.

"Given the severity of the wound. The only thing I could think of is: reduce the bleeding so she doesn't bleed out and bleed to death and control the bleeding with a tourniquet," says Askew.

"I was scared to death," he says. "I had seen the aftermath of some really bad car accidents, but to be a participant and have to actually save someone's life…this was a first and I was absolutely scared to death."

After the event, Askew received an award from the mayor who called him a hero. Askew says the experience filled him with "exhilaration, a great deal of joy, a great deal of excitement. Kind of a natural high- one that I've never felt before and doubt I'll ever feel it again."

Perhaps no one is more thankful to him than the family of Azezeh Abdallah.

"There is no word for me to say. Thank you is not enough," says Ms. Abdallah's daughter, Kholla Hasan. "If it had happened in the middle of the night, my mother could have bled to death. But the way it happened, he was there, her neighbors were there and God was looking over her and he sent John to her to save her."

"I thank God that you're here and that you made it and that everything is OK. You'll be fine," says Askew to Ms. Abdallah.

In Arabic Ms. Abdalla thanks him back and thanks God as well for him being there for her.

Although Ms. Abdallah lost most of her hand during the explosion, doctors say, no further injuries occurred and the overall outlook is good. As for Askew, he's been asked to represent his community this Sept. 11 by marching alongside some of New York's heroes during the one-year anniversary commemoration of the terrorist attack.