Gerald Shadrix and grandson Landen have been delivering meals to students in Starke County, Indiana since schools closed in-person learning a month ago. Little did they know their efforts would literally save lives.
Shadrix and Landen were delivering their weekly meals on April 13, when they approached a house. A woman who lives there usually comes to the door to pick up the family’s food. However, that day, Shadrix said he and Landen knocked on the door several times before the woman answered.
Because it took the woman so long to open and door and because she didn’t seem like herself put up a red flag, Shadrix explained. He and Landen also smelled an odor of natural gas.
“Well, we go to different houses, some houses smell bad, some don’t smell at all, but that house smelled different,” shared Landen, 13.
Shadrix said he and Landen returned to the house and knocked again. They asked the woman if she had a gas leak. Shadrix said that’s when the woman reportedly noticed that her stove burner had been on.
Shadrix said he informed the woman to open all of the windows and leave the house if she could.
“I mean opening the door could have caused enough of a spark — just based on how much gas was there,” Shadrix said. “But she reached around and turned it off, and she kind of just had a look of confusion on her face, not knowing what had happened.”
Shadrix’s response came as no surprise to Tara Pitts, transportation director at Knox Community School Corporation.
“Gerald normally goes over and beyond the call of duty, even on his regular bus route,” Pitts told School Transportation News. “His students know that he cares about them. His parents know that he is going to take excellent care of their children. So, this was no surprise to me … and that is what makes him one of the best bus drivers. Because he connects with his students, and even though these are not his regular [route] students, he still connects with them.”
Pitts explained that after Shadrix and Landen left the house, they continued on their meal delivery route. However, the woman, who is a mother of three, called the elementary school and raved about these two heroes who saved their lives.
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The woman added that her stove was on for at least 12 hours, and the situation could have very easily ended differently.
Landen, who is homeschooled, said he felt compelled to volunteer with the meal delivery program so he could give back to the community.
“He was really thrilled the first day [of volunteering], and it put a smile on his face,” Shadrix said. “And then when the gas situation happened, he was like man, — it opened his eyes because he felt like he actually helped somebody to a greater degree than what we even thought would be possible in our life,” Shadrix said.