Kiski Twp. teen rescues stricken man on newspaper route for second time
Having worked almost 16 years on the same North Apollo carrier route for the Valley News Dispatch, Joe Stango knows when something isn't right in the neighborhood.
For Stango, 18, such an inclination arose on May 29 when the Kiski Township resident spotted a stack of newspapers collecting on 81-year-old Robert Betts' Isabella Avenue front porch.
“I saw two or three papers sitting there, which is strange because he always gets his paper in the morning,” Stango said. “That's how I knew something probably happened again.”
The last time Betts' morning newspapers piled up was in 2009 when he had fallen in his home and went two days without food, water or medicine.
It was Stango who found him then, lying on his kitchen floor, and called the paramedics.
Almost four years later, the recent Apollo-Ridge High School graduate said he feared a similar situation or worse when he retrieved Betts' neighbors and approached the retired gravedigger's home.
There was no answer at the front door — it was locked — but Stango could hear that the television was on inside.
After breaking through a locked screen door in the rear of the house, the newspaper carrier found Betts down again. This time, he was in the living room.
Dehydrated and delusional, Betts laid motionless, mumbling to himself. Stango called 911 and tried to calm down Betts before the paramedics arrived.
Again, the 81-year-old had gone at least two days without food, water or medicine.
He was admitted to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison where he was treated for severe dehydration, among other things. He didn't suffer any broken bones, according to his longtime neighbor and caregiver, Sandra Gregg.
Since recovering from the fall, Betts has moved into West Haven Nursing Home in Washington Township.
Gregg, who has known Betts for more than 40 years and regularly visits him, said his quality of life since moving into the nursing home has “improved exponentially.”
“I think the whole thing was kind of a blessing in disguise,” she said. “It's just so fortunate that Joe did what he did. It could have turned out very badly if he wasn't there. Most teenagers would have just tossed the paper and rode away without even thinking about it.
“What he did was very rare and very impressive.”
A regional circulation manager of Trib Total Media, parent company of the VND, has since expressed the company's intention of nominating Stango for the Inter-State Circulation Managers' Association V.T. Curtis Award. The citation is awarded to carriers who have “performed an outstanding service to their fellow man while carrying out the duties of their newspaper route,” according to the I-SCMA website.
“It feels good, but it's completely unnecessary,” Stango said regarding the recognition. “I felt obligated to do what I did. I wouldn't say I went above and beyond at all. I like doing this. I've been doing it since I was 2 years old.”
Now a high school graduate, Stango at an early age used to shadow his older brother as he worked the same route. His brother officially handed the responsibilities over to Joe six years ago.
Gregg said she views Stango's commitment to the carrier route and the people on it as an inspiration.
“It's great to know that there are still teenagers today who have more going on in their lives than just sports and video games,” she said. “Joe really cares about this neighborhood and its people. He saved (Betts') life.”
Stango will attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania this fall to study criminology. The longtime carrier said he plans to participate in the Army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program through the university.
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-226-4673.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Winfield man is one of a few to attend all 49 Super Bowl games
- Woman killed in Washington Township crash
- Indiana Township police sniff out pot shipments
- Lower Burrell 5th-grader illustrates power of kindness with cancer charity
- Second teen charged in Jan. 1 Tarentum shooting
- Arnold woman severely injured in Allegheny Township wreck
- Radioactive radon permeates Western Pennsylvania homes
- ATI steam explosion in Harrison rocked homes in four counties
- Harrison officials discuss grant applications for sidewalks, sewers
- Weather postpones Route 56 closure in New Kensington
- Harrison man retiring to end 20-year NFL officiating career