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Strangers rush to aid of Orillia senior who fell on downtown sidewalk

Young man and 'Angels from Aurora' came to her aid; 'It reaffirms to me that there are far more good people than bad'
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Mary Armitage looks a little worse for wear after falling and smashing her head on a downtown sidewalk. She was aided by several strangers. Dave Dawson/OrilliaMatters

Mary Armitage, her chin flushed with purple bruises and her battered head wrapped in bandages, can’t remember much from the moments after she stumbled and cracked her head on a Mississaga Street sidewalk Friday afternoon.

But when others told her about what transpired as she lay bleeding on the sidewalk, she was amazed to hear about how complete strangers stepped up to save the day.

Four women from Aurora were eating lunch at a window-side table at Sanafir Mediterranean Restaurant when they noticed Armitage take a tumble after she got out of her motorized scooter to enter the store next door.

“I was looking out the window and saw her fall and slam her head,” said Coleen Klopfer, who was eating lunch with her friends, Sherry Salhani, Wendy Hamilton and Karen Rowden. “Karen, who had just had her CPR training, quickly went to her side to see if she was OK. Mary was bleeding pretty badly.”

A young man walking up the street also came to the fallen senior’s aid and immediately called 911. He stayed by her side until an ambulance arrived.

Armitage doesn’t remember any of it.

“I was on my way home from Metro, I had groceries in my cart and I got off my scooter to go into the shop beside the Mediterranean restaurant because there were two (sandwich board) signs on the sidewalk that kind of were blocking my way,” recalls Armitage. “When I got off the scooter, I kind of tripped on a ledge or something and fell.”

She says she is beyond thankful that people lent her a helping hand in her moment of need.

 “I call them the ‘Angels from Aurora,’” says Agnes Ward, Armitage’s friend who lives in the same apartment building on Colborne Street.

Ward was returning to her apartment Friday afternoon when she came upon the four women outside of Armitage’s apartment.

They quickly told Ward what had happened to her neighbour and how Armitage had asked them to bring her scooter home.

Once the ambulance left to transport their elderly patient to the hospital, the four strangers ferried Armitage’s scooter back to her home, put her groceries in the fridge and, after encountering Vienna, Armitage’s mewling cat, they fed her and made sure she had water.

“To me, what they did is amazing,” said Ward. “I’ve never known anything like that. It is so lovely and reaffirms to me that there are far more good people than bad!”

But Klopfer said they just did what anyone should do.

“I’m kind of shocked that people think we did anything special,” she told OrilliaMatters. “It’s just basic human kindness. She had nobody. We weren’t doing anything important … I don’t think we went over and above.”

The quartet from Aurora were visiting Orillia for the Mariposa Folk Festival. Not long after they finally made it to Tudhope Park Friday evening, they took time to call the hospital to check in on Armitage; they did that again Saturday morning.

Armitage, who is in good spirits despite being in pain as she recovers, said she is astounded by their actions.

“I just think they’re wonderful,” said the 77-year-old. “I can’t believe that total strangers would do something like that for me.”

She spoke to the women on a conference call yesterday to thank them. While speaking with OrilliaMatters, Armitage said she hopes to repay their kindness.

“I don’t know if they got to finish lunch, but the next time they’re in Orillia, I’m buying them lunch for sure,” she said, with a smile.

Ward said the kindness of strangers is heartening.

“With all the mean and horrible things that happen, look at the love that is in this world,” she said. “All you read is negative headlines … I just think it’s so wonderful to see that there is good in people.”


Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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