Postal worker Mario Serrano took note of a peculiar scene Monday at a home on his Garden City route -- Saturday's mail still by the door, the gurgling of running water and a little murmuring.
"It sounded like someone was taking a shower and singing," Serrano recalled Tuesday, describing what prompted the rescue of an injured woman.
The scene bothered the longtime mail carrier as he continued on his rounds about 3 p.m., so he circled back a few minutes later to the 87-year-old woman's St. Pauls Crescent home.
He then realized what he thought was singing was someone moaning "Help me, help me." So Serrano pushed open the bathroom window and called out the woman's name. "Who's that?" she answered.
"It's Mario, your mailman."
That's how Serrano delivered not just the mail but help, saving the woman who had slipped, injuring her hip, and remained stuck between a toilet and bathtub since Saturday, said Garden City police and the U.S. Postal Service.
"The lady was the hero," Serrano, 53, of West Hempstead, said Tuesday. "She was in the bathroom for days and survived. She had the will to live."
Garden City Postmaster Annette D'Amato thinks Serrano, a 27-year employee, is a hero, too. She's nominating him for an award given to employees who excel in a variety of ways.
After Serrano alerted police, the toilet was removed to free the woman, said acting Garden City Police Commissioner Kenneth Jackson.
The woman had a hip injury, but police did not know if she had any other injuries as a result of her ordeal.
Laura Tarr, who lives nearby, said she visited the woman on Friday, before she fell, and she seemed fine. "She's a wonderful neighbor," Tarr said. Tarr said she felt awful after hearing that her neighbor, who walks with a cane, was stuck for two days. "She's lucid, so she must have known she was trapped for the two days," she said.
Serrano said his own mother is 87 and he only did what he hopes others might do in a similar situation. Serrano has worked his Garden City route for seven years and he's been a popular mail carrier, even before he delivered help.
His actions didn't surprise the woman's neighbors. "He knows your name, and your children's name," Tarr said. "You tell him you're going on vacation and he says 'OK, I'll keep an eye on things.' " Another neighbor, Dr. Michael Ferragamo, said that once police arrived, Serrano didn't stick around.
He just went back to delivering mail.
With Gary Dymski