COKATO, MN Some are calling Chris Traxler a driver for Randy’s Environmental Services from Cokato a hero for helping an injured woman, but he believes “I was just doing what anyone else should have done or would have done.”
What he did was jump into action when he saw a 68-year-old Plymouth woman named Candy fall on the ice March 1.
He witnessed her step off the curb onto an icy street. Her feet went out from underneath her and she fell, hitting her head on the curb and knocking her out for a brief moment.
“I set the parking brake on the truck, hopped out, and ran over there,” Traxler said. “I knelt down and asked, ‘Are you alright?’ She was in a daze.”
Her head hurt, she said, which didn’t surprise Traxler, who had seen how hard she hit the ground.
When he helped her to her feet, it became clear she was seriously injured.
“At that moment, I realized she was bleeding from the back of her head,” Traxler said.
He helped her to her house, fetched a towel to apply to the profusely bleeding wound, and called 911.
“She said, ‘You can go,’ but I said, ‘I’m staying here until the ambulance gets here to tend to you because you have a pretty nasty cut on the back of your head, and a lump, too,’” Traxler said.
He unsuccessfully tried to call her husband before being able to contact her son.
Once Candy was on the stretcher, Traxler went back to his garbage-collection route.
Six days later, dispatcher Tami Bangasser answered a call from Candy.
“Tami took a call from one of our customers,” company operations administrator Deb Gatz said. “She was starting to get very emotional, and we could overhear her conversation. She had to reach for a Kleenex as the woman on the phone was explaining the occurrence.”
“She credited him for saving her life,” Bangasser said. “If he would not have been there, she doesn’t know what would have happened to her . . . She said he went way above the call of duty that day. He wouldn’t have needed to stay, but he did. She knows that the outcome would have been much, much different had he not acted as he did.”
She requested that Traxler visit her at home so she could give him a thank-you card.
“I told her she didn’t have to do that. It’s no big deal,” Traxler said. “A simple ‘thank you’ was more than adequate for me.”
But when he acquiesced and visited her, he learned she had suffered a brain bleed and ended up with 15 staples to seal her wound. She teared up as she shared the severity of her injuries.
“Had she not gotten to the hospital, she would have died,” Traxler said. “She was pretty thankful I was there and I helped her. She kept calling me her hero. I said, ‘I’ve been called a lot of things, but I’ve never once been called a hero.’”
Though he doesn’t consider himself a hero, he did conquer a personal kryptonite while helping Candy.
“When it comes to seeing blood, I’d normally faint,” Traxler said. “In the moment, I think it was pure adrenaline that kicked in.”
He is just happy that he gets to see Candy’s smile each Thursday morning.
“She comes out every week and says ‘hi’ and ‘good morning,’” Traxler said. “I always walk her garbage can up to her house. I don’t want her to slip and fall.”
He is always cognizant of the safety of those collecting their garbage cans, and he tries to place them away from hazards such as ice.
While Candy’s injury was the most serious incident he had seen, it wasn’t the first time he had helped someone in distress.
He had previously seen an elderly gentleman sitting on the ground and flailing his arms. Traxler learned that he wasn’t injured, but was requesting help to cross the street back to his house.
Traxler did so, and then called local police to recommend a welfare check for the individual.
He has been a garbage man since 2002, and has worked for Randy’s for nearly 12 years.