(La Porte County, IN) - A 10-year-old Michigan City boy is credited with saving the life of an older man who could not get up off the floor of his house for an extended period.
Jonathan Mendez was given a "Certificate of Recognition for Exemplary and Life Saving Service" from the La Porte County Sheriff's Office. He also received a "challenge coin," described by Sheriff John Boyd as one of the most memorable awards seldom handed out by his department.
The presentation was made during Wednesday night's La Porte County Commissioners meeting.
"We preach every day; if you see it, report it. That's exactly what Jonathan did," Boyd said.
Mendez, on August 25, was going door to door selling candy bars as a fundraiser for his school. He approached a house on Clover Lane near Michigan City High School and heard someone inside yelling for help.
The boy was able to look inside and noticed the pleas from an older man on the floor.
Mendez called 911, triggering a response from emergency personnel from several different agencies.
Coolspring Township Volunteer Firefighter Rick Bradford said the man was emaciated and had been on the floor for three days.
The 80-year-old man was transported to a hospital and later a nursing home for recovery, said Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith. Smith said the plan is for the man with cancer to, eventually, move in with his son.
Dr. Vidya Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said it's not uncommon for older adults living by themselves not to be able to get up after a fall and go unnoticed until help arrives. He said people could die in as little as two or three days if they cannot adjust their bodies' position.
Kora said dehydration and malnutrition develop from lack of access to food and water. Rhabdomyolysis can also set in when muscles from being compressed to the hard surface begin releasing enzymes into the bloodstream. Kora said the enzymes damage the kidneys and can trigger an irregular heartbeat.
Kora said people could survive laying on the floor for up to a week or more depending on their health and physical condition before the fall.
"My hats off to this young boy who really reached out and got some help for this elderly individual," Kora said.
Mendez, an honor roll student at Edgewood Elementary School, was joined by his parents, Luis and Matilde, for the recognition.
The boy also received a certificate from the La Porte County Firefighters Association and a La Porte County Emergency Medical Services sweatshirt.
"It's an absolute honor to have the opportunity to meet this wonderful young man and thank him for his act of kindness that ultimately saved a life that day," said EMS Administrator Andrew McGuire.