All in a Day's Work: Mail Carrier Extinguishes House Fire and Finishes Route



Most of us don’t anticipate saving a life when we head off to work each morning, but one Detroit mail carrier did just that when he prevented a woman’s house from burning down.

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On Tuesday, postal worker Darrian Crutcher, 48, was making the rounds on his usual 10:30 a.m. route, when he noticed smoke billowing from the upstairs window of a home on Stansbury Street. “There was a young girl, around 12 years old, sitting on the front steps crying,” Crutcher tells Yahoo Shine. “She said her mother was inside the house, so I called 911." The dispatcher told Crutcher to make sure everyone was out of the home—and without a thought to his own safety, he walked inside and found the homeowner, Carolyn Patterson. “She was standing in the living room panicking, so I asked if she had a hose,” he says. 

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The hose was located on the side of the house. Crutcher raced outside to grab it, then hooked it up to the Patterson’s kitchen sink and dragged it upstairs. “I crawled on my hands and knees because the entire second floor was filled with black and gray smoke,” he says. “I had no idea where the fire was and the woman kept yelling, ‘It’s in the middle room!’ But since I had never been inside her home, I didn’t know where to go.”

The fire, which was located in the master bedroom, began when incense, left unattended, rolled off the woman’s dresser and onto the floor. Eventually, Crutcher found the room, stood up, and began spraying. “I couldn’t see, so I had no idea how close I was to the fire, but there was no time to be scared,” he says. Crutcher sprayed until he heard fire engine sirens outside. “The real guys came in and took care of the job, and I went outside to finish my route,” he says.

Once the flames were extinguished, the firefighters from Engine 30 turned their attention on Crutcher, who they hailed as a hero. “They asked me three times if I wanted a job at the fire department,” he says.

Yahoo Shine could not reach Patterson for comment. However, she told Crutcher that he was a blessing. But the mail carrier of nine years rejects his hero status. “I was there at the right time," he says. “I just did what anyone else would have done."

Saving lives seems to be the unofficial job description of postal workers these days. Earlier this month, after noticing that a mailbox on his route was filled for days with packages containing medication, Michael Wheeley, a mail carrier in Graham, North Carolina, checked on the homeowner, whom he found confined to a chair after having a stroke. Wheeley fed him and called 911.

In 2012, a mail carrier in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, stopped a man from abducting two 9-year-olds after seeing the perpetrator grab them by the necks. Because he delivered mail for the suspect, he helped police track him down. Three years ago, while delivering mail, postal worker Keith McVey of Akron, Ohio, threw down his bag and performed CPR on an unconscious man lying on the side of the road. Only two years earlier, McVey saved a girl from drowning in a lake, and years before that, he administered first aid to a suicidal teen who had jumped off a snowy bridge.

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