Guardian angels come in all shapes and sizes. Some come in times of war. Some come in times of illness.
|Bud Dauterman talks about his injuries from being pinned under his truck. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
And, sometimes, they come carrying the mail.
That was the case for Bowling Green resident Bud Dauterman on Saturday.
“My dad says he was blessed. Blessed in Bowling Green,” said his son, Mike Dauterman.
“I just like the thought of you never know who’s going to be there for you. Delivering mail and saving lives, I guess.”
Bud Dauterman, who lives in the 300 block of Sunrise Drive, was doing some work on his 1988 Chevy pickup truck around 3 p.m. that day. The 72-year-old had the vehicle up on a scissors jack and was underneath it applying grease.
Laying on his side, holding the grease gun, he suddenly heard a crunching noise. The top kickplate of the jack broke off and the truck “went down faster than I can move.”
The vehicle, which had one of its tires off, came down on Dauterman, the axle pinning his left arm.
“He was completely under there, he barely had his feet dangling out,” said Mike Dauterman.
“It completely crushed him.”
“I couldn’t hardly breathe, so I was taking minute breaths,” said Dauterman.
Praying, Dauterman was able to move himself into a slightly better position to breathe, but his overall situation had not improved. He attempted to cry for help, but the massive weight of the truck made making a loud call almost impossible.
Still praying, Dauterman said “If it’s time to take me, it’s time to take me. Otherwise, you’re going to have to send help.”
Just then, he heard a male voice say “Hey, what’re you singing under there?”
The voice belonged to postal worker Chad Kleman, on his rounds in the neighborhood. Kleman initially mistook Dauterman’s muffled cries for song. However, as Dauterman explained the situation, Kleman went into action.
“All I did was I attempted to utilize the jack as much as I could,” said Kleman, “because the top kickplate of the jack was broken.” He maneuvered the jack and was eventually able to lift the vehicle about four inches off of Dauterman. He also braced the vehicle on a tire rim.
|The truck that Bud Dauterman was trapped under along Sunrise Drive in Bowling Green.
“It was enough,” said Kleman. When Dauterman indicated that he was free, “I grabbed him by his feet and pulled him out” and remained with him until paramedics arrived, “trying to keep him conscious.”
Kleman even reportedly called in to the Post Office later to tell them he’d be a little late on his rounds due to the emergency.
An Army veteran who saw combat during the conflict in Bosnia, Kleman said “In between his breaths, I was asking him, trying to figure out how bad he was.”
“It was pretty tough for me,” he said. “I felt like I sweated a whole gallon of water.”
“He saved my dad’s life,” said Mike Dauterman.
Bud Dauterman was later taken to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Toledo, by air ambulance. Among his injuries, he sustained a fractured shoulder blade, cracked spine and a lacerated kidney. He’s currently back in Bowling Green recovering.
“Even the head surgeon told me ... ‘it’s a miracle,’” said Mike Dauterman.
Bud Dauterman and Kleman have had a friendly relationship through the years.
“He’s always giving me peaches and water throughout the day, on hot days,” while on his rounds, said Kleman. “He talks to me.”
“We’ve gotten a good rapport over the last five years that I’ve been his delivery man.”
Kleman seems to have been put right where he needed to be. Bud Dauterman said Kleman usually doesn’t make his rounds at the time he did on Saturday.
“The mailman,” he said later, “(the Lord) sent him by at the right time.”
“Because if he hadn’t come by, and no one else had come by, I’d expire under there.”
“All I wished out of this, is I hope other people would do this for anybody, much less somebody they know, a stranger,” said Kleman.
“I’m proud to be (a) letter carrier,” he wrote in his account of the incident on his Facebook page, “and not only to carry my mail but to help my customers to the best of my abilities. As a veteran of the U.S. Army, I’ve seen my share of men and women injured and I swore I would always do what I can as long as I’m alive to help anyone in need.”