As an exterminator, Andy Lumry's job is to kill. But one customer — a former first lady of Columbus — is praising him for saving her life.
Jane Knight, 89, is the widow of the late mayor (1962-63) and Georgia state senator (1967-68) Steve Knight. She has arthritis and vertigo, but she insists on doing her own gardening.
"I'm hard-headed," she said.
During the afternoon of April 11, she was picking up storm debris in her Whitesville Road yard when she lost control of her rolling walker.
"It spun, and it threw me," she said. "I tried to grab it and ended up on the ground."
Knight's head hit the driveway.
She usually keeps an alert button in her pocket, Knight said, but she doesn't remember whether she had it on her then. Regardless, she didn't think to reach for it while she drifted in and out of consciousness.
The next thing she remembers was the voice of her bug man.
Knight is Lumry's last appointment on the second Thursday of each month as he returns to Columbus from the Backwaters. He usually arrives at her house as early as 5:30 or as late as 6:30 p.m. But this time, he arrived around 5.
"There was a reason why I was ahead of schedule that day," said Lumry, a 1985 graduate of Kendrick High School.
"I was just blessed," Knight said.
Although two of Knight's relatives were in the house when she fell, they were upstairs with the door closed and the air conditioner on, she said, so they didn't know she needed help.
Her home is on a hill away from the road, so neighbors and passersby couldn't see her.
"I could have bled to death," she said.
As he drove up to her house, Lumry saw her walker on its side and her body on the ground, with her head on the edge of the driveway.
"I was scared immediately," he said. ". . . I kind of freaked out a little bit."
Knight wasn't moving, and her eyes were closed, Lumry said. He held her hand and hollered, "Miss Knight!"
She opened her eyes and asked, "Who is that?"
"Oh, Andy. Where am I at?"
"Yes, ma'am. As a matter of fact, you're outside and laying on the driveway with your head busted open."
Knight asked Lumry to help her get up, but he knew that he shouldn't try.
"I didn't want to move her because of the amount of blood that was around her head," he said.
Her head was in a puddle of blood, Lumry said, and blood had trickled about 6 feet down the driveway.
Knight asked Lumry to not call for an ambulance, but he dialed 911 anyway. While he waited for the first responders, he took a jacket from his truck and placed it on her.
A fire truck arrived within 5 minutes and an ambulance within 10, Lumry said. One of the responders asked him, "Who put this jacket on her?"
Lumry, thinking he might have done something wrong, hesitated but acknowledged that he did.
"Good job, man," he was told. Lumry later learned that the jacket might have prevented Knight from going into shock, which can be fatal.
Lumry helped lift Knight onto the gurney.
"There was a fireman up at her shoulders and one down at her lower legs," he said, "but there wasn't nobody in the middle."
Lumry told her, "Pardon me, Miss Knight, but I'm going to have to touch your butt."
Knight doesn't remember that moment, but she laughed at his recollection.
She spent five days in St. Francis Hospital and two weeks in Muscogee Manor & Rehabilitation Center to stop the bleeding, ensure she had no other injuries and regain her strength.
"They wanted to make sure you weebled and wobbled but didn't fall down," Lumry told her.
When she heard the story of what happened, Knight told everyone she could that Lumry saved her life.
"I don't feel like that," he said. "I just feel that I did what any compassionate person should do, no matter who it is."
Lumry indeed has helped other folks in medical emergencies, but he considers Knight to be like his mother, who died 25 years ago.
"We're just really thankful he found her and so glad it was him," Knight's oldest son, John, said on behalf of the family. "He knows what to do in those situations, and he's a really smart guy."
Knight applied to the National Wildlife Federation for her home to be certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. About 10 days after she returned home, she again was in her garden — and saw a double rainbow.
"This is what God gives me," she said.
Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, http://ledger-enquirer.com
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