Shirley C. Wharton helped to save Lewis D. Blaich, Sr., from a fatal fall, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 22, 1960. At night Blaich, 71, accountant, in a confused state due to sedatives, climbed out a window of his hospital room and dropped six feet onto a concrete ledge 42 inches wide which extended along the side of the building 50 feet above ground level. Checking Blaich’s room, Mrs. Wharton, 22, registered nurse, noticed the open window and looked outside. No other room was lighted, and although she could not see Blaich she heard his voice. Lowering herself from the windowsill, Mrs. Wharton dropped onto the ledge. In the darkness she pressed her body against the wall and moved more than 100 feet along the ledge to Blaich, talking continuously to calm him. She then took him by the hand and held him against the wall until their presence was discovered by a nurse’s aid, who turned on a light in a nearby room. Mrs. Wharton held Blaich close to the wall as she walked backward drawing him 23 feet along the ledge to beneath the window. She maintained her hold on Blaich and raised one hand, which then was grasped by hospital employees who had been summoned. Because Blaich could not be reached from the window, an orderly climbed out beyond Blaich and moved to him. With one hand held by persons at the window, the orderly and Mrs. Wharton lifted Blaich, and those in the room pulled him inside. Mrs. Wharton and the orderly then were aided into the room.
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