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Newspaper carrier's extra steps make all the difference for one lucky Olivia man

OLIVIA -- Newspaper carrier Elizabeth Price isn't satisfied with tossing the daily news from her car and makes it a point to walk each paper to the door.

That made all the difference on Tuesday morning, when Price discovered an unconscious man lying with his head on the bottom step of his home in Olivia.

She was about to deliver a complimentary copy of the West Central Tribune to the home.

It was well before sunrise at 6 a.m., the sky was cloud covered and the bank sign flashed a temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit when Price made her way to the last street on her route.

From her car, Price said she had no idea that the dark-colored and seemingly featureless shape at the bottom of the steps was a person.

Price said she realized it was the resident of the home as she neared his form.

She soon discovered that he was both unresponsive and cool to the touch.

Her husband, Daniel, usually drives the car while she delivers the newspapers, but her mother, Kathryn, was filling in. It was a good thing, said Price. Her mother is a registered nurse and happened to have her "dead'' or disconnected cell phone along with her.

Elizabeth pounded on the home's door and a dog inside started barking, but no one came to the door. Her mother found that her cell phone could still be used to call 911 and she summoned an ambulance.

In the midst of it all, the man started to regain consciousness and told Price to go into the home and wake his wife. She did so. After overcoming her initial shock over her husband's condition, Price said the woman began saying: "Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming along.''

Price said she does not know the name of the man, but she had seen him outside a few days earlier and told him she would be delivering a complimentary paper to his home.

She learned that the man is an early riser and will sometimes step out of the house to shovel the walk. His wife believes he may have slipped as he came down the steps and knocked himself out.

Price said it is anybody's guess how long he may have been unconscious, or how long he may have remained at the bottom of the steps if she had not come along.

She delivers 93 papers each morning and is punctual about it, but called the West Central Tribune to advise the circulation department that the final nine papers on her route were late due to the emergency.

Mark Herman, West Central Tribune circulation director, said it is not unusual for the newspaper carriers to serve a watchdog role in their communities. They are often the only people out and about in the early morning hours and the first to notice something unusual.

Herman said he recalls one instance in Willmar when a carrier got a whiff of natural gas while dropping off a paper at one home and thought it important to summon help. Sure enough, a leak was discovered and a potential tragedy prevented, he said.