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The spirit of Christmas is found at the right place
By Dennis Box
Finding the spirit of Christmas may be as simple as a wrong turn at the right time.
Teresa Scheitzach, a Bonney Lake resident who works as a receptionist at the Hammermaster Law Offices in Sumner, found the Christmas spirit around noon Dec. 7 in a most unlikely place.
"I was on my lunch break and I made a wrong turn," Scheitzach said. "I don't know why I was where I was."
She was on Main Street in Sumner in front of Fred Meyer when she saw a man get hit by a truck as he stepped into the street.
Scheitzach jumped out of her car and went to the man's aid. He was bleeding badly and gravely wounded.
"I held him and rocked him," Scheitzach said. "I just tried to keep him talking. He asked me to please hold him. He told me he was dying."
She found out his name was LeRoy Danielson. He was a bachelor, 76 years old, who lived in Kent.
"He told me about his family and life," Scheitzach said. "He asked me not to leave him. I rubbed his head and asked him questions. I knew if he talked he would breathe."
When the paramedics arrived Scheitzach let loose of Danielson.
"He reached for my hand, turned and said thank you, and that was it," Scheitzach said. "He was gone."
Chaplain Art Sphar and Sumner Chief of Police Colleen Wilson came to the scene and stayed with Scheitzach until her employer and mother could reach her.
"It was an incredibly gracious thing for her to do," Sphar said.
Scheitzach is a single mom with three boys ages 13, 12 and 7. She said this had been a tough year for her, dealing with medical complications after undergoing brain surgery in April.
Comforting Danielson at first was a difficult and traumatic experience for Scheitzach, but it soon became a rebirth.
After the incident, the Sumner police chief sent out an e-mail describing the story and Scheitzach's kind act.
Letters began arriving from across the country. People sent money and gift certificates.
Last week, Wilson and Sphar brought a basket to Scheitzach filled with e-mails, gift cards, a Good Samaritan letter of appreciation from the Sumner Police Department and an anonymous thank you card with a $100 bill inside.
"I don't know these people and they're recognizing me for something anyone would have done," Scheitzach said. "This has become a wonderful experience for me. It brought a whole new light to everything in my life. I even got a promise ring for Christmas."
Scheitzach also met Danielson's family and attended his memorial service.
"The family was totally grateful," Scheitzach said. "They were so happy to find out he didn't die alone. They introduced me as LeRoy's angel."
The experience has brought a sense of acceptance in the death of Scheitzach's own father.
"I may have made a wrong turn," Scheitzach said. "But it was where I was supposed to be."
Dennis Box can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.