Written by: Jeremy Baumhower
Yesterday felt familiar, didn’t it?
It was just 53 weeks ago, on a Sunday–that also had a Level 3 Snow Emergency for Lucas County, when the city of Toledo was struck with tragedy and the loss of two of our bravest.
How fitting that today is Groundhog Day?
Shortly after 2 PM, Mayor Mike Collins experienced cardiac arrest while driving his vehicle home. His car hit a pole in South Toledo, he was unresponsive and is currently in the ICU at UTMC.
As Northwest Ohio was getting hammered with 10 plus inches of snow; residents were preparing for an announced Level 3, and trying to figure out new Super Bowl party plans– the shock from the unexpected news, felt like our breath was stolen.
Sucker punched yet again.
The biggest game of the year, didn’t feel so important. I no longer cared about commercials, nor “Defaltegate”– my soul started cheering and praying for a different team, a different family.
Like last year, my cell phone exploded with numerous texts and calls, filled with heartbreaking updates and rumors. There were two conflicting reports being given. Neither were good, but one carried hope.
I’ve known Mike Collins since his Toledo Police Patrolman Association days. I have watched his continued commitment to Public Service, and I have been inspired by his evolution. I consider Mike a friend, and yesterday truly sucked. My children witnessed a rare side of their dad.
There are a couple of things we know about Mayor Collins; the man is not afraid of a fight and he is believer in the city of Toledo. He’s an Irish cop, who loved walking his beat, completely resolute in his convictions. If there is anyone who is going to survive this, it would be Mike Collins. This man carries a vast vocabulary and the word “quit” isn’t in his arsenal.
There was a bright spot in all the darkness. A moment of humanity that reminded us, where we live and who we are.
It started during the 5:15 press conference, when cardiologist Christopher Cooper started getting choked up about an heroic act from a complete stranger, that saved Mayor Collins’ life.
Learning the story behind Evelyn Johnson, and how she and an unnamed person, saved Mike’s life, acted as temporary medicine for the pain we were feeling.
Evelyn Johnson was on her way to work at Rally’s, when she saw the disabled vehicle. She immediately sprung into action, checked the car and found an unresponsive driver behind locked doors. She did not panic. She called 911, went to the trunk of her car, pulled a hammer and did something that will forever change two lives.
Ms. Johnson took a swing.
Evelyn Johnson, and an unnamed male, used the hammer to break out the disabled car’s back window. The duo proceeded to administer CPR for the next five minutes until help arrived. It was Toledo Firefighters that informed her of the identity of the driver. She had no idea, he was Mayor.
Ms. Johnson immediately left the scene and made it to work.
How amazingly Toledo is that? The woman saved a life and didn’t miss her shift, all during a Level 3.
The other man, doesn’t leave a name and drives away. No big deal, just another day.
There is something beautiful about the people who live in Northwest Ohio; We are not afraid to help those in need, we do incredibly unselfish acts, and still make it to work on time. It must be something in our tainted water, that instinctively makes us get out of a car and a swing a hammer, when it’s needed.
D. Michael Collins’ entire career has been dedicated to helping others; from his days in the military, to his foot patrols walking the beat as a Toledo Police Officer, as a professor and now as our Mayor.
With snow covered grounds, no rock in sight… Karma found him a hammer in a trunk, and a person courageous enough to swing. Karma bought our Irish friend some more time.
When Michael Collins finally needed help, it came via a tap on the glass.
How poetic that it was a hammer that saved this man’s life? Some might relate his political prowess to that exact tool.
As we continue praying for Mike Collins, and his family– be inspired by the acts of two complete strangers and find a way to pay-it-forward. Show your appreciation to this man, with random acts of civic compassion– in other words, do something nice for your neighbor.
Get well Mike Collins.