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Feb. 16—SALEM, N.H. — John Tanguay was finishing up his usual Friday morning food delivery at Barron Elementary School when the Salem resident spotted something out of the ordinary — a man face-down, clearly injured, in a nearby driveway.
Insistent that what he did was "no big deal," Tanguay said he stopped to check on the stranger.
That man, 64-year-old Doris Levesque, remained at Massachusetts General Hospital early this week. His wife Marie says he is suffering from a brain bleed, and Tanguay's action was crucial in minimizing further damage.
A nurse practitioner, Marie Levesque explains the seriousness of head injuries. Her husband's mysterious fall is no exception.
"He was taking the trash out. About 9 in the morning is when he does that usually. He remembers his feet flying out from under him," Marie said. "I was inside on a telehealth call with my first patient of the day."
She explained, "I was on the other side of the house, and wouldn't have known that anything was wrong for a while."
Neither is sure how long Doris spent on the ground — though he is insistent he did not lose consciousness — but Tanguay sensed immediate trouble.
"I got him to his feet and told him he had a head injury. I wasn't even sure if he knew that," said Tanguay, who is a food courier for the Salem School District. "He was groggy. I'm not sure how long he was out there for."
After making sure that Doris was safely inside his home, and honoring his request to not call an ambulance, Tanguay drove off.
Doctors discovered Doris' bleeding brain soon after, when his wife took him to Lawrence General Hospital to get checked out.
"The problem was that (the bleed) got bigger Saturday, and then Sunday it was even bigger," Marie said. "He was in the ICU at Lawrence General when they decided to transfer him down to Boston."
Doctors are calling the deep bleed a "red herring," his wife said.
"There was something there before, which the fall could have exacerbated," Marie said. "An aneurysm or something like that, which we wouldn't have known about if not for this."
Surgery is not an option until doctors run more tests, she said.
In the meantime, Doris is conscious in his hospital bed, according to his wife, but has a hard time coming up with words and communicating. Pandemic protocols prevent Marie from visiting him in the city.
Doris remembered Tanguay without hesitation, and asked his wife to post on a community Facebook page to try to track him down to express appreciation.
"He told me he didn't get the guy's name, but a good Samaritan helped him get inside," Marie said. "I never expected the response I ended up with on social media."
Tanguay is not online, but his wife is.
"I didn't really think about it. It was just the right thing to do — to stop and see if the guy was okay," Tanguay said. "I'd like to think that anyone else would do the same."
Once Doris is home, Marie said the couple and their three children will plan a proper thank you.