August 7, 2017, started like any other working day for Staten Island mailwoman Lisa Sweeney. But that soon changed when she arrived to deliver the mail at 87-year-old Marie Boyer’s house in Westerleigh. Here, Sweeney saw mail piled up inside Boyer’s box and her trash cans out in the street. Acting on instinct, she decided to call 911 straight away.
Like so many other postal workers across America, Lisa Sweeney is a familiar face to her local community. In fact, she’s worked the same mail route for more than a decade. And as a result of that familiarity, the 51-year-old has grown to know the faces and routines of the 400 or so residents she delivers to as well.
Now, to some people that might seem like a nice perk for a 30-year veteran of the United States Postal Service. But that knowledge actually proved vital when Sweeney arrived at Boyer’s address back in August 2017.
“I’m just aware of everything,” Sweeney later told ABC’s Eyewitness News. “It’s a very quiet, quaint area that I deliver the mail. So anything out of the ordinary, a light bulb goes off in my head.”
On this occasion, then, it was the trash cans on Boyer’s curb that raised an immediate red flag for Sweeney. Taking stock of the situation, the 51-year-old became increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of one of her regulars.
“I’m aware of my surroundings always,” Sweeney told the New York Post. “The garbage gets picked up Friday. Her garbage pails were still out in the driveway [on the Monday]. That was a signal.”
So Sweeney – who had just returned to work following a vacation – called 911, believing that Boyer was inside the house. And although she was still on her shift, the concerned mailwoman continued to circle the residence until the NYPD and FDNY arrived.
The police then entered Boyer’s home by breaking through a back window. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the officers to find the 87-year-old on her bedroom floor upstairs.
It turned out that Boyer, who lived alone, had taken a tumble a few days earlier. And afterwards she was unable to reach her phone to call for help. As a result, the elderly resident was left fighting for her life, with her cries for assistance going unanswered and dehydration kicking in.
“When I fell to the ground, I couldn’t get up again,” Boyer subsequently told Eyewitness News. “Because I had a lot of damage to my body before, and it made it difficult. The windows were closed, and I kept on calling out and telling people to call 911. But nobody could hear me.”
“So that went on for like three days,” she continued. “That’s when I was getting dehydrated. I didn’t want to die that way. I don’t think anybody would want to die in that kind of circumstance.”
The emergency services were thankfully on hand to complete the rescue, although Boyer herself has no recollection of what happened after falling unconscious. But the 87-year-old clearly knew who one of her rescuers was, despite the haziness.
“I must’ve passed out at one point, because I don’t remember the police coming or anything,” Boyer explained. “I knew enough about [Sweeney] to know that if anybody would know, she would.”
Sweeney, meanwhile, continued to wait outside the house while the rescue was underway, hoping for an update. And after hearing the good news, she could barely contain her emotions.
“When someone finally came down and said, ‘She’s alive,’ I started crying,” the 51-year-old told the New York Post. “I was just happy she was alive.” And thankfully for Boyer, she was soon out of hospital – although she had suffered some bruising that had left her with a walker.
In the aftermath of her accident, a heartwarming new friendship has blossomed between the 87-year-old and Sweeney. This is despite Boyer now living at the Esplanade, a nearby senior center on Staten Island.
In fact, Boyer still receives frequent visits and phone calls from Sweeney. Yes, the 51-year-old travels to the facility at least twice a week, while also delivering her friend’s mail personally.
“I knew you’d know I was in the house because the mail was all there,” Boyer told Sweeney during a recent visit, according to the New York Post. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
“I think she’s very special,” Boyer said to Eyewitness News. “I don’t think she just thinks about herself. She thinks about others.” And to demonstrate her point, Sweeney invited Boyer to spend Thanksgiving with Sweeney’s family, suggesting that the mailwoman’s kindness knows no bounds.
Three months ago, Sweeney’s eye for residents’ daily routines was just a regular part of her job delivering mail on Staten Island. But that quirk saved the life of a woman in desperate need of help, proving that this veteran mailwoman was in the right place at the right time.