Hometown Hero: Employee Helps Elderly Customer who Drove Lawn Mower into Lake

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John Fogus saw two cell phones on the ground, near a lake, and had an eerie feeling in the pit of his stomach that something was terribly wrong.

Fogus, an electric service worker, had moments ago finished a reconnect to a Fremont home and wanted to tell the elderly couple he was finished.

“I just wanted to see if their power was back on so I could be on my way to the next job,” said Fogus, a 12-year company veteran.

He knocked on the door. No answer. He figured he would wander out back since he had just spoken with the couple minutes ago.

Then he saw the cell phones and looked down a steep hill, where he could see two women and a man struggling in the water.

As Fogus got closer, he saw the man’s riding lawn mower was on its back, wheels up in the water. His adrenaline went into high gear and ran down the hill, which was about 10 feet high, to assist the man. Two women – the man’s wife and another relative – were also in the water and distraught over the ordeal.

After making sure the man was alright, Fogus helped him out of the water, retrieved the lawn mower then pushed it up the hill and into the garage.

The man, in his 70s, said he thought the lawn mower was in drive, but it was actually in reverse. The motion sent the lawn mower tumbling over the embankment, over the seawall and into the water. Then the man’s head and back hit the sand and he went down into the water.

“It’s amazing he wasn’t severely hurt,” Fogus said. “He was very lucky.”

The two women and man thanked Fogus profusely for helping them in their moment of need, getting their loved one to safety.

“All it took was 40 to 50 seconds for a potential tragedy to happen,” said Fogus. “Anything could have happened. It goes to show you why we have to have our eyes wide open and be aware of our surroundings at all times.”

Fogus said he would never hesitate to help anyone in need – on or off the clock.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “People need to be there for each other no matter if it’s pulling them out of the water, helping them during a car accident – any type of emergency.”

He said while he hopes he never has to face a high anxiety situation with a customer again – he will be ready.

“That’s why we do the training we do, because most of the time we are there at the right place at the right time for somebody in need,” he said of employees in the field. “That’s what life is all about: to be blessed to be able to help somebody.”

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