Orange County firefighters finish yardwork for 93-year-old man who collapsed while mowing

Jessica De Nova Image
Thursday, August 12, 2021
OC firefighters finish yardwork for man who collapsed while mowing
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When a 93-year-old Westminster man collapsed while mowing his lawn, firefighters rushed him to the hospital and then returned to help finish the yardwork.

WESTMINSTER, Calif. (KABC) -- A group of firefighters with the Orange County Fire Authority were caught on camera finishing a patient's yard work after the 93-year-old man fell while mowing his lawn and was sent to the hospital.

Lori Hallett, the homeowner's daughter, said Wednesday her father insists on staying busy.

"Really, it's important to him. He said, 'It makes me feel alive,'" Hallett said.

It's what happened after the patient, Robert Hallett, was transported to the hospital that had neighbors tearing up. One of those neighbors was Steel Morris.

"I had to get my camera out because it was just so touching to see," Morris said.

Morris caught the OCFA crew finishing what their patient started.

Fire Apparatus Engineer Tim Crawford described the scene.

"Shane was mowing. I was kinda picking up the debris, as well as the captain, just kind of cleaning up. Like he said, we don't leave a mess, so we were just doing what we do and going about our day," Crawford said.

Fire Capt. Paramedic Greg Chrisman explained it's not in their job description, but it's part of the job.

"I haven't been to a call where someone's gone down during yardwork, which is actually something that's not uncommon, where we walk away from the scene and leave someone's yard a mess," Chrisman said. "So, for people to think that this is unique, it's not. I know that firefighters all across the country and here in California, we do the same thing. We do it all the time. We seldom walk away from messes at the scene of an emergency."

This time, the person on the other side of the good deed was a Navy veteran, the original homeowner loved by many in the tight-knit community.

"Very, very heartwarming to see. It was emotional for all of us who know Bob and love the family and have been friends forever," Morris said.

"It's such a beautiful act of kindness. To me, the beauty of it is that my father was the recipient. He's such an incredible man," Hallett said.

After hearing about this, Robert Hallett's son, John Hallett, who is an assistant fire chief at an airbase in Spain, sent the OCFA the following email:

"To the brave and dedicated women and men of Orange County Fire Authority / Station 65,

I want to offer my heartfelt thanks for not only taking care of my dad but for also going above and beyond with the kind gesture of finishing up the yard work at his home. My family and I are truly grateful for your professionalism and dedication to protecting the community that you serve. We were all deeply touched. And yes, not only does my dad still cut his grass at age 93, but he walks a half-mile every day around the neighborhood to stay young and healthy. My dad, Robert Hallett, is the original owner of his home and has lived there since 1957. He plays cribbage with a neighbor daily and does the NYT crossword puzzle every morning in pen no less.

My two sisters live local and look after him; however, he can be quite stubborn and up until last week, insisted on cutting his own grass. Once he has fully recovered, I imagine that he'll wish to return to performing his yardwork once again.

The last time he was unable to cut his own grass was 13 years ago at the age of 80 when he battled colon cancer. Interestingly enough, I had the dubious chore of cutting the grass while he was recovering. He stated that he couldn't wait to feel better and cut his own grass, as I was clearly butchering his yard. I'm happy and albeit a bit jealous to say that he was satisfied with the job you guys did on his lawn. Again, thank you very much. As someone who has worked in the Federal Fire Service for 35 years, you are a class act!"

The homeowner returned from the hospital a few hours later. His daughter said he got a chuckle out of the whole thing, and is now letting others help him out with his yard work.