Braille Monitor                                                                               July 2006

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Good Neighbor in Houston

From the Editor: We have maintained for a long time that blind people are a cross section of the general population. Mostly people expect us to be helpless victims, if not already, at least in the making. Sometimes, of course, we are, and sometimes blind people are actually the perpetrators of cruelty or violence. But sometimes we are the rescuers, providing dinner to a sick friend, donating blood in an emergency, or organizing the church's hot meals program. So, gratifying as it is to read such stories, it should be no surprise that occasionally blind people find themselves in the position of actually performing with real courage. On March 29, 2006, MSNBC reported such an event. Here is the story:

Blind Leads the Blind--to Safety
Sightless Man Pulls His Neighbor from Burning Home in Texas

When Jim Sherman heard his neighbor call out for help, he rushed to her rescue, pulling the eighty-four-year-old woman from her burning home in Texas Monday night. Sherman has been blind since birth. The woman he saved is also legally blind.

Sherman and the neighbor, Annie Smith, shared a baby monitor for communication, the Houston Chronicle reported. When he heard Smith's cry, he used a chain link fence to navigate to the burning house, about thirty miles northeast of Houston. "I got to the door and heard crackling, smelled smoke, and felt the intense heat," Sherman, fifty-four, told the Chronicle. He said he took a few steps inside the house and pulled her outside.

Fire crews reached the scene at around 10:30 p.m. Investigator Kevin Bates told the Chronicle that Smith "probably wouldn't have made it out of the house without his help."

Earlier Rescue

Sherman agreed to check in on Smith while Smith's daughter, Deborah, worked a night shift as a nurse, he told the paper. Deborah Smith came up with the idea to use a baby monitor several months ago because she worried about her mother falling, Sherman said.
Smith's other daughter, Delores Perry, told the Chronicle that Sherman also came to Smith's rescue when she had a stroke last month. She said he heard Smith on the baby monitor fall to the floor. "He got her on the couch and called 911 and then called my sister at work," she told the paper.

Stopped from Going Back in

Annie Smith said she wanted to go back inside the burning house to get her three newborn kittens, but Sherman refused to let her go. Deborah Smith arrived in time to rescue the animals. Their dog and another cat also survived, but the kittens' mother died.

Fire officials said the blaze was caused by an electrical overload in the bedroom, the Chronicle reported. Perry said Sherman's actions were not a surprise. "It's just the man he is," she told the paper.

Sherman told the Chronicle, "I'm just glad I saved someone's life."

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