On May 4, Shelley Collins was shopping at Walmart in Columbus and decided to go and check on her husband, Lindsey, and their grandson, Connor, outside the store.
No one had informed the Gainesville, Georgia, woman that her husband tripped in the middle of the road in-between the parking lot and the store, and that several people were surrounding her husband attempting to ascertain what went wrong.
“I was in the store, and they had not come back into the store,” Shelley said. “I went out to check and I looked out and saw some people surrounding my husband. I knew it was him because I recognized his light blue shirt.”
One small trip in the Walmart parking lot led to a weekend-long adventure that showed the strong character and generous spirit of the people of Columbus.
The Collins arrived in Columbus on Thursday to visit their daughter Lacey, who lives in Columbus and works at Hy-Vee. Connor was looking for a gift to give to Lacey for Mother’s Day and decided that some flowers would do the trick.
“They were just a couple of little plants,” Shelley said. “They already had the plants and took them to the car and they were headed back to the store.”
As Lindsey and Connor were coming back inside, Lindsey took a fall and went down in the center of the road in front of the store - a dangerous place for one to be on a Saturday afternoon.
At least six Walmart shoppers sprung into action, noticing the fallen man and his grandson and immediately assisted.
“One woman had put his head on her knee,” Shelley said.
“She just did it on instinct,” Lindsey said. “I was down and I couldn’t get back up. I had tried to stand and couldn’t, so she just lifted my head to get it off the concrete.”
In the immediate aftermath of the fall, Lindsey could not feel any pain.
“I was sort of stunned more than in pain,” Lindsey said. “It hurt, but I wasn’t hurting that badly.”
It turned out that Lindsey had a broken hip. The fast reaction of shoppers at the Columbus Walmart helped get Lindsey to Columbus Community Hospital in short order.
The family spent the afternoon at CCH in the emergency room, where X-rays revealed the broken hip. Unfortunately, treatment was delayed after Shelley found out that the hospital didn't accept the Medicare Advantage insurance plan.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Shelley said. “I called the insurance company, and their business hours are Monday through Friday. I called the nurse line and she said the best thing to do was to find a hospital nearby.”
CCH was able to arrange transport for the Collins family to Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk, where Lindsey received a full hip replacement on Sunday (May 5) morning. After spending 48 hours in the hospital, Lindsey and his family checked out on Tuesday and headed back to Columbus to say goodbye to their daughter after a whirlwind of a weekend.
Upon returning to Gainesville, Shelley and Lindsey couldn’t stop talking about the helpful people they encountered in Columbus. Their help and generosity made this trip to see family one that they will never forget.
“(It was) very positive,” Shelley said. “It was so kind to see someone having my husband’s head on her knee for an extended period of time. Everyone was just so pleasant and encouraging.”
“(They were) very reassuring,” Lindsey said. “They had just stopped and chose to get involved in a situation, decided that they needed to take care of the situation and did so until the time that the transport team got there. They made sure that I was as comfortable as possible and made sure that there were no other problems.”
Zach Roth is a reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org