SWEPCO Lineman Dincel Newton will tell you he is always looking for potential hazards while driving. The morning of Wednesday, July 7, was no different as Newton drove to a job site in Many, Louisiana.
“I happened to look to my right and saw what I thought was someone lying under a truck.”
After a closer look, Newton noticed a distance of about 25 feet between the person on the ground and the truck in the driveway.
Newton stopped his truck and ran toward the man, who was lying face down.
When Newton rolled the man over — 80-year-old Ken Busby — the man looked up and smiled at Newton, saying, “I’m glad to see you.”
“I’m glad to see you, too,” Newton replied, noticing Busby’s clammy-like skin and red bites on his face. Busby had fallen in a fire ant bed the day before after returning from lunch with his family. He had been on the ground for approximately 19 hours.
Newton quickly used water from his truck to soak a rag and had Busby place it on his forehead as Newton grabbed him a cold bottle of water.
“I said, ‘Look, do not drink it quickly. Sip it,’” Newton told him. “Every 15 minutes, take a sip.”
When Busby was ready to get off the ground, Newton got behind him, put his arms under him and got Busby to a chair. Newton called Bubsy's sister, Rita DeBose, owner of Country Boy Restaurant in Many.
While DeBose was on her way, Newton supported Busby as he slowly walked to a cool, shaded area on the porch. He asked Busby questions to keep him talking, including where he was born. Busby was born at the same house Dincel had found him.
“Thinking back now, I thank God I was there at that time,” said Newton. “My heart was beating a mile a minute. It was scaring me, but I kept a calm head.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 11, Newton was honored with an AEP Hero Award. SWEPCO President & Chief Operating Officer Malcolm Smoak, along with Valley District leadership recognized the extraordinary measures he took to help someone in need. In addition, Louisiana State Representative Rodney Schamerhorn presented him with An Expression of Commendation for his heroism on July 7.
During his 33 years as a line mechanic, Newton had never found someone in this type of condition.
A couple of days after he found Busby, Newton visited his sister's restaurant to ask about him. That’s when Newton learned Busby was in the hospital and had suffered from heat exhaustion and a heart attack while in the yard Newton found him.
“We’re so grateful that Dincel saw [my dad] and stopped,” said his daughter Lisa, of Austin, Texas, who had been at the lunch with him the day he collapsed. “It had to have been hard for Dincel to see him because of how high the grass was; it’s a miracle Dincel saw him.”
Ken Busby passed away on Sunday, July 25.
“We are so grateful for the extra time we had with him,” said Walton.
DeBose added, “Had it not been for Dincel, my brother’s grandchildren wouldn’t have had the extra time they had with him.”
A letter to SWEPCO's president: Daughter shares gratitude for Louisiana line mechanic's help
"Our family would like to recognize and honor an angel among us and to share the story of what happened last week with our dad, Ken Busby.
On Tuesday, July 6, visiting members of our family gathered at the Country Boy Restaurant, owned by Rita (our father’s sister) and Joe DeBose.
Our dad left the restaurant around 1:00 pm, stopped at the store for a few groceries and went to his home located in a rural area of Florien.
We believe that he fell and collapsed in the yard, had a heart attack, and was unconscious and unable to call for help.
Around 9 am on Wednesday, July 7, (after being in the yard overnight) we were so blessed that DINCEL NEWTON, with SWEPCO, happened to see my dad lying there and stopped to check on him.
We believe that it was both a blessing and a miracle that he saw our dad and that he was able to stop and help.
Our dad doesn’t remember much about the ordeal he has gone through, but he does remember DINCEL NEWTON helping him up to the porch and that God sent someone both strong enough and willing to do that.
Our dad is still in the hospital and hopefully on the road to recovery, but our story has a much happier ending and our hearts are grateful for the blessing and the timing of DINCEL NEWTON."
- Lisa Walton, daughter of Ken Busby