Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Remove Images

Witness helps police respond to Geneva crash

by Steve Targo

February 07, 2013

GENEVA — If it weren't for an unscheduled appointment, local real estate agent Becky Melcher said she wouldn't have been able to help the people involved in a two-vehicle accident Friday afternoon.

Town police officer Bob Linder, who responded to the accident at 1:42 p.m., said a 2010 Buick LaCrosse and a 2007 Lincoln Mark LT pickup collided near W3661 Springfield Road.

The impact sent the pickup truck through a mailbox and a fence before it struck a utility pole. The occupants of the LaCrosse — an elderly couple, John and Barbara Davies — suffered injuries.

"It was quite an accident," Melcher said.

She's from Burlington, and she works out of the Keefe Real Estate offices in Burlington and Lake Geneva. Prior to the accident, someone called Melcher, asked if she'd look at their house. Melcher said she had the time, and it only took her about 20 minutes out of the way of her next appointment.

"That extra 20 minutes made the difference because that put me behind the Davies' car," she said.

The LaCrosse wound up in a ditch, Melcher said. The airbags went off, which she said frightened the Davies couple.

"They were scared because they smelled smoke," Melcher said. "They thought their car was on fire, but it wasn't. It was just the smell of the airbags."

She said she checked to make sure they didn't suffer any spinal injuries. Barbara Davies, 78, had an injured shoulder. John, 72, had cuts to his hand, which bled profusely.

Melcher, 44, is 5-foot-4, yet she lifted Barbara out of the LaCrosse, carried her up the slope of the snow-covered ditch and helped her into her own vehicle. Once Barbara was inside Melcher's vehicle, she helped John by tending to his wounded hand.

An ambulance transported Barbara to an area hospital. Melcher said the Davies were concerned about their dog. Also, the pickup driver, Ronn Hand, and John needed drives to their homes.

"So I gave everyone a ride home," Melcher said.

Hand lives in the Lake Como subdivision, the Davies in Geneva National.

Melcher said they dropped off the Davies dog and she drove John to the same hospital as Barbara.

Linder said Melcher stayed at the scene of the accident for about an hour. He also said a neighbor, Ken Patnaude, helped him by directing traffic. Handling an accident when it was between 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, one has to worry about more than cold temperatures.

"Not only do I have to keep people out of the road, I have to contact tow companies, communicate with dispatch, fire and rescue, take photographs and measurements and collect information for my report," Linder said.

He said he was the only officer available to handle the call, as it was a busy time of day for police.

"I felt bad because there was only one officer on the scene and he was trying to make it so traffic could get through and call tow trucks," Melcher said.

Although Linder said some would feel it's their moral obligation to stay and help if they were in Melcher's shoes, she went above and beyond that.

"Nobody's going to be out when it's almost zero degrees in that area unless they have their own business going on," Linder said. "(Melcher) chose to put her life on hold to help these people she didn't even know."

He was so impressed he posted a lengthy status about it on the Town of Geneva Police Department's Facebook page.

As of late Monday morning, that status received 3,560 likes.

Both drivers involved in the crash also thanked Melcher. The Davies phoned her that night, called her "an angel," and Hand sent her an email, she said. Both said she was calm and that she made them feel calm after the accident.

"I didn't do anything different than anybody else," she said.

A good Samaritan with faith

The strange thing is it's the second time in less than a year that Melcher helped the victims of an automobile accident.

She said last summer, near Shaver's General Store, Spring Prairie, she saw a car strike a tree. The person behind the vehicle was intoxicated, she said. In that accident, the person's vehicle was smoking. The driver was "very confused."

"He just didn't even stop at the sign," Melcher said. "He just kept going. He hit another car."

That time, she stayed for about an hour at the scene, just as she did Friday afternoon in the town of Geneva.

"It's what everyone should do," Melcher said.

Not everyone does it, though. She said other cars went past the accident scene Friday, "which was fine because I had it handled."

It's actually something police sometimes discourage.

Linder said people stop and ask if he needs help from time to time at an accident scene.

He said usually, if emergency vehicles are present, he will discourage them from stopping because it's safer for emergency personnel and it would keep traffic moving past the scene.

But Friday was different. Melcher was there, and it took Linder about two minutes to arrive at the scene.

"And (Melcher) could have left at that point," Linder said. "She chose not to."


Melcher, an ordained minister and active volunteer at places such as Love Inc., Burlington, said she's a faithful person.

"I'll get up and I'll say to the Lord, 'Use me however you need me today,'" she said. "That's how I start my day, every day, and I don't question how I'm needed."

When asked how she felt about the Town of Geneva Police Department's Facebook status being so popular — Linder said it's received the most likes out of any status since he started the page — Melcher said she doesn't feel she did anything unusual.

But she said she hopes it inspires people.

"Helping people is what matters," Melcher said.