Rockaway Mail Carrier Turned Hero
A Rockaway Beach woman's guardian angel came to her aid in the shape of a local mail carrier whose attentiveness and presence of mind saved her from the trapped confines of her own kitchen.
The 72-year-old, lifelong Rockaway resident and retired schoolteacher wishes to remain anonymous for the fact that her story of survival is not about her, but rather the heroic actions of Melvin Cauley, Jr., 27, her mail carrier of five years.
Her ordeal, she describes, began on Thursday, January 29, when she fell at home, injuring her knees and wrists. She lay helpless on the floor, suffering from dehydration and fatigue, unable to get up. It wasn't until the following Friday, February 5 when she was rescued by police.
"I tried to sit down and fell on my knees," she said. "I tried to push myself up with a broomstick but couldn't make it. I am so grateful that he cared enough to inquire about me."
As a result of delivering mail to her home for so many years, Cauley says he got to know her pretty well, noting she would often get packages and he would even help carry them inside for her.
Therefore, he found it strange that during the first week of February she failed to pick up her mail and several notices for UPS packages were left stuck to her front door.
"It was unlike her. I knew something must have been wrong," Cauley said. "I honestly feared she had died."
Cauley said he rang the doorbell on Friday, but she failed to answer. Worried and now convinced something was wrong, he followed up by going to the 100 Precinct on Beach 94 Street and notified police of his concern. Police rescued her later that day by gaining entry to her home via a side window.
She said it was her radio that kept her alert for most of the days. But after the third night she began to hallucinate and became delirious from the lack of food and water.
"My mind started taking over," she said. "I now realize how lucky I was to have him come and help me. He deserves all the credit in the world."
"I felt better once I found out she would be OK," Cauley said. "I didn't really know how well she was doing until I got back in to work last week. It was a great feeling."
The woman says that his parents deserve just as much credit as he does for raising such a kind and considerate man.
"I know how hard it is to raise a kid these days," she said. "But his parents did the right thing with him."
She is currently recovering from her injuries and is doing better with each passing day.
Congressman Gregory Meeks, who has been in the forefront of trying to solve the multitude of postal complaints across the peninsula, plans to honor Cauley at a stamp unveiling on February 23, in Far Rockaway.
"There is a new postmaster we are working closely together with to get services to the level the community deserves," said Candice Sandy, spokesperson for Congressman Meeks. "With this postal employee taking initiative to feel that something wasn't right is great. The congressman wants to acknowledge him for that, because he took the steps to ensure this resident was alright."