McCrabb: Path leads two women together

Good samaritan Keri Booth of Germantown saw Linda Roach as she was walking along Ohio 73 and decided to stop her car and see if she could help the woman who was in obvious distress. Now Linda Roach is receiving care at the Cedarview Healthcare Center in Lebanon and receiving the medical care she needed. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Caption
Good samaritan Keri Booth of Germantown saw Linda Roach as she was walking along Ohio 73 and decided to stop her car and see if she could help the woman who was in obvious distress. Now Linda Roach is receiving care at the Cedarview Healthcare Center in Lebanon and receiving the medical care she needed. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

As Keri Booth left a friend’s visitation, she started to turn left on Breiel Boulevard, toward her mother’s home in Middletown.

But something — or someone — told Booth to turn right, and not visit her mother. Not on this day.

At this point early in our phone interview, Booth warned me: “If you don’t have faith, you probably won’t believe this story.”

Continue, I told her. I love a good story.

After turning onto Ohio 73, the route to her Germantown apartment, Booth passed a person — too bundled to tell if it was a man or woman — who was walking from Middletown toward Franklin. Booth figures hundreds of motorists had passed the person and no one stopped.

“They acted like she was totally invisible,” Booth said. “We fear more than we show compassion. It breaks my heart that we don’t treat people like human beings.”

Good samaritan Keri Booth of Germantown saw Linda Roach as she was walking along Ohio 73 and decided to stop her car and see if she could help the woman who was in obvious distress. Now Linda Roach is receiving care at the Cedarview Healthcare Center in Lebanon and receiving the medical care she needed. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Caption
Good samaritan Keri Booth of Germantown saw Linda Roach as she was walking along Ohio 73 and decided to stop her car and see if she could help the woman who was in obvious distress. Now Linda Roach is receiving care at the Cedarview Healthcare Center in Lebanon and receiving the medical care she needed. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Booth couldn’t close her eyes to a stranger in need. She thinks and acts differently than most of us. Who has time to get involved when there’s a text message to answer?

She turned her car around, drove past the person, then turned around again. She put on her emergency flashers and stopped along the side of Ohio 73.

Booth, 59, asked the woman, identified as Linda Roach, 61, if she needed assistance. Roach had two crutches, but was unable to use them. She was carrying a bundle of blankets, a few clothes and a can of tuna. She was returning from a Middletown gas station where she had washed off her infected left hand she badly burned while starting a camp fire near the Great Miami River.

Roach agreed to get in Booth’s car. Roach was cold and tired. Booth wanted to give her a ride home, but when they neared a wooded area on Ohio 73, Roach said that was her home. Booth watched as Roach limped toward the park, then disappeared into the thick woods.

Then Booth drove to Germantown never forgetting the woman she found walking along the road.

“She was a mess, very sad,” Booth said. “She was without hope. I had no idea what was going to happen to her. It was very concerning to me. I started to cry because it broke my heart. It was like it was a challenge from God to see if I was going to help this person.”

That night Booth collected some blankets, clothing, soap and food from her apartment. The next day, Nov. 12, she returned to Ohio 73, hoping to be reunited with the woman. This time, she prayed, Roach would agree to stay with her, even for just a few days.

Booth saw Roach again and pulled over. Finally, Roach agreed.

“She wasn’t going to take no for an answer,” Roach said.

Before she was allowed to spend the night, Roach had to empty her pockets, proving she had no drugs. But Booth said she wasn’t afraid to have a stranger in her apartment.

“She showed more courage than me,” Booth said. “That road goes both ways.”

That first night, Roach slept for 19 consecutive hours on a cot, at times frightening Booth.

“I hate to say this part,” Booth said, placing her face in her hands. “I thought she died in my apartment. She was white, real pale. She was in a bad place.”

Roach told Booth she hadn’t eaten in three days and was severely dehydrated.

“She was dying,” Booth said. “She had been crushed by life.”

After three days, Booth took Roach to West Chester Hospital where she was admitted for eight days. They performed two surgeries on her hand, one on her broken ankle.

Since then, Roach has lived at Cedarview Health Care Center in Lebanon, an 83-bed facility. She is staying there for free and, once her ankle is healed, will be eligible for a Home Choice Program where she may be placed in permanent housing. She has been examined by a dentist, an audiologist and receives medication and meals, said Melissa Cupp, who works in social services.

On Thursday, Booth visited Roach, who was wearing a sweatshirt and pajamas and had her gray hair in a ponytail. They acted like sisters, these two. Roach told Booth she didn’t want to be interviewed. So Booth did most of the talking as Roach turned her wheelchair away.

Roach said she left an abusive relationship and was homeless for three months. She lived in Carlisle and has three children: a son who lives in Chillicothe, a daughter who lives in Arcanum, and a daughter whom she has lost contact.

Booth called Roach “a very wholesome lady” who has shown great appreciation. She has thanked Booth thousands of times.

“I love her and I will always love her,” Booth said. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget; a person I’ll never forget. I feel like I’m the one blessed.”

Someone mentioned that Booth is a heroine.

“I’m not the hero,” she insisted. “God is. And these people here (at Cedarview) and West Chester Hospital are.”

So now — two months after the two met when Booth turned right instead of left — has she put the pieces together?

“God placed everything in order,” Booth said. “It was a God thing. It proves that if we have a heart for God, He puts us in the path to help each other.”

Even when that path isn’t the one you expect to travel.


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The Journal-News is committed to coverage of our local community — from schools and businesses to residents and nonprofit groups. Reporter Rick McCrabb brings you the stories of the people, places and events that make our community unique.