RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — A local woman says two people are to thank for saving her life. She was stuck in the middle of traffic after her electric wheelchair unexpectedly stopped. It happened while she was on her way home from an appointment at the Carle Clinic.
Vera Lee says she charged her wheelchair before the appointment, but a malfunction is to blame for leaving her helpless in the middle of a busy road. Thankfully, she wasn’t alone.
Living with muscular dystrophy, Vera Lee and her twin Vickie VanMeter rely on their wheelchairs a lot. That’s why, when something goes wrong, it can leave them feeling helpless. That was the case when they went to an appointment two weeks ago.
“I took notice of the chair thinking ‘Oh what’s that for?’ So Vicki said, ‘It means your chair’s low on charge.’ I said, ‘We just charged it,'” said Lee.
After they finished, they started the mile-long-trip home.
Lee says she and her sister were trying to cross 136 when Lee’s electric wheelchair suddenly ran out of battery and stopped, putting her in the middle of traffic.
“I said, ‘Uhhh Vickie?’ And she said, ‘Is your chair gone?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it died on me,'” said Lee. “It scares you because you don’t know what you’re gonna do, you’re helpless at the time. As you try your best to be independent, all of a sudden, that independence is taken away.”
But they weren’t alone for long. Dave Emling noticed the situation and took action.
“I was just trying to get this poor lady off the road while it was really hot out,” said Emling.
Emling started to push Lee home, which was no easy feat. The wheelchair with Lee in it weighs around 500 pounds. Shelby Sisk noticed the struggle and decided to lend a hand.
“A lot of other vehicles had just passed by and it just kind of broke my heart because they couldn’t do much about it in that case,” said Sisk.
Lee wants others to see the importance stepping up to help.
“With the ones that didn’t stop, maybe they weren’t able to, maybe they were. But when these two finally did stop, we thought, ‘There are still good people in this world,'” said Lee.
After that day, Lee had to search to re-connect with Sisk and Emling. Eventually she was able to find them and say thank you. She says she’s grateful to now have two new friends.
Lee says they asked a C-CART (Champaign County Area Rural Transit System) bus driver for help while they were on their way. The driver told them they weren’t authorized to do give them a ride. We contacted C-CART and a representative said it’s hard to fit someone in if they haven’t scheduled a pickup, but in a situation like Lee’s, you can always call them and they’ll see what they can do.