Kenia Bettencourt has seen many things on her 5:30 a.m. paper route through northwest Oklahoma City.
In her five years as an early morning paper carrier for The Oklahoman, she has reported broken water pipes, stray animals and even an attempted burglary.
“We're the extra eyes,” Bettencourt, 39, said of those in her profession. “Lot's of different things can happen at 5:30 in the morning.”
Jan. 8 was the first time she helped save a life.
About 2 a.m., Rose Prentice, 75, heard a noise outside her house. The retired nurse ventured outside to investigate and scared off two men who ran away upon seeing her.
When she turned around to go back into her home, she stumbled on a crack in the street, tripped and fell forward, severely fracturing her arm.
Dressed in a nightgown and sandals, Prentice crawled back to her front porch in the dark early morning hours and in near-freezing temperatures.
Unable to go farther, she sat on her porch and prayed.
“I was so exhausted, and I was having a hard time breathing. I knew I needed to make as much noise as I could for someone to hear me, so I screamed. I prayed that God would send someone to help me,” Prentice said.
Bettencourt heard Prentice's calls for help while delivering papers a few houses down the road.
“She's not a customer of mine, but I happened to hear her and I turned around. I asked her what she needed. I asked her if I could call 911 for her, and she said yes,” Bettencourt said.
Prentice asked Bettencourt for a blanket from inside her home and a rosary from her purse, which Bettencourt retrieved before paramedics arrived.
“I stayed with her until the paramedics came and put her on a stretcher,” Bettencourt said. She then fed Prentice's cat and continued on with her paper route.
Prentice was taken to Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, where a doctor treated her for a badly fractured left arm and hypothermia. She was told that had she been outside for much longer she might not have lived.
“I don't know what would have happened to me had she not come along,” Prentice said. “This little girl was so kind. She waited with me the whole time. She said to me, ‘I'm not going to leave you until EMSA comes.'”
Prentice is still recovering from her fall and said she has learned to be more cautious.
“There are so many seniors who make poor choices about going outside like I did. I sometimes think I can save the world, but I can't. We try to be independent in the wrong way,” Prentice said.
“If you are a senior and hear something outside, don't go outside. Stay inside and call 911. If you have to go outside, for heaven's sake, take your cellphone,” she said.
Prentice now wears a Life Alert device that she can use in an emergency.
Bettencourt told her husband and five children about what happened that morning.
“I tell my kids, ‘What if that was you? What if that was your grandma? Wouldn't you want someone to help?' That's how I was raised, too,” she said.
Prentice said she is grateful to Bettencourt and everyone at Mercy Hospital. She now subscribes to The Oklahoman and hopes to see Bettencourt again, under better circumstances.