Strangers’ kindness a comfort to grieving daughter

Harold Lemke - submitted
Harold Lemke
— image credit: submitted

To lose a loved one suddenly is heartbreaking. To know that in their final moments they were surrounded by strangers who  cared is comforting to the ones left behind.

That knowledge eases the pain for Susan Gagnon whose father died on Monday evening only steps away from the front door of his Langley City apartment at 56 Avenue and 201A Street. 

Gagnon had phoned her father, Harold Lemke, several times that day, beginning at mid morning. 

It was unusual for him not to return messages, so shortly after 7 p.m. she called the landlord, asking him to check on her father’s suite.

Half an hour later, the landlord called. The news was bad. His suite was empty, but he had fallen on the sidewalk. The ambulance was on its way.

But he was not alone. A group of passersby had rushed to his aid and, in a description of the scene relayed to Gagnon by a B.C. Ambulance paramedic, one of them, a man of about 19, had removed his jacket, rolled it into a pillow and tucked it gently under the stricken man’s head.

Then the young man held the head of the unconscious man to prevent possible damage to the neck and spine.

“There was an overwhelming number of people who were there making him comfortable,” Gagnon said.

“In his last moments people were surrounding him with kindness and compassion.”

Lemke did not survive, and whether he died after he tripped and fell or had a fainting spell, is unknown. A CT scan showed that Lemke, who was over six feet tall, had suffered a serious injury to the back of his head, and had bleeding on the brain.

Gagnon is grateful to the strangers who comforted her father, and expresses her thanks in a letter to the editor.




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