City employee comes to the rescue

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

Marjorie and Jim King were in trouble last Thursday when a group of Good Samaritans, including one city employee who went above and beyond the call of duty, stopped to help them.

The Portsmouth couple had been in training to do in-home dialysis for him and decided to go out for dinner afterward. They were almost out of gas but thought they could make it to their destination.

“I almost never let it get below half full,” she said. “I have a thing about the gas, but it had just been a bad week.”

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They were on Godwin Boulevard near Sentara Obici Hospital, waiting to turn into the 7-Eleven to get gas, when the engine cut off with no warning.

“I knew it was the gas,” she said.

Her husband got out of the car to push the SUV, and several men from surrounding cars soon joined him. One of them offered for him to get back in the vehicle, and that’s when it all went wrong.

As Jim King tried to hop back into the driver’s seat of the slowly moving car, his overcoat got caught on the door, and the vehicle dragged him to the ground. Only one of the assisting men could see what had happened; the others kept pushing until the first man sounded the alarm.

“All this just happened in a matter of seconds,” Marjorie King said.

The vehicle rolled until it reached King’s legs, which stopped its progress.

Meanwhile, Gerald Wiggins Jr., a Suffolk Public Works employee, was on his way to his mother’s house nearby when he saw the incident unfold. He was getting out of his car to help when King tried to get back into his vehicle.

“The next thing I know, the vehicle had rolled on top of him,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins helped one of the other men push the SUV off King. With police and rescue workers on their way and several people assisting the injured man, Wiggins went to the passenger side to check on and reassure Marjorie King. She asked him to stay near her.

“That was to keep me from flying apart,” King said later. “It was like something for me to hold onto.”

But Wiggins didn’t stop there. He steered the car as firefighters and other men pushed it to the 7-Eleven. He helped King’s son, who had arrived, jumpstart the vehicle when it didn’t restart after getting fuel. He even came to the hospital later to check on the family after he noticed the car still sitting in the 7-Eleven parking lot.

King was seriously injured, mostly on his left side. His neck and entire left arm were banged up, and he might need skin grafts on his knees. But the Kings are grateful it didn’t turn out worse.

Marjorie King said everyone, from the men who helped push to the emergency room staff, were kind and helpful, but she singled Wiggins out for special praise.

“The man just went beyond the call of duty,” King said. “I would like for him to have some kind of recognition. He would probably say, ‘Oh, I didn’t do anything,’ but what he did do was exactly what I needed him to do at that very minute.”