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Postal worker comes to aid of bloodied Cottage Grove man

Postal worker Jeff Hinchcliffe was delivering a package to a Cottage Grove house when he heard the homeowner asking for help from inside the garage. The man had fallen and was lying in a pool of blood. Hinchcliffe called 911 and first responders were able to help the man. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)

Jeff Hinchcliffe went from letter carrier to life saver during a recent mail route.

The postal worker’s fortuitous mail stop in Cottage Grove led to him helping an injured homeowner who was bloodied and sprawled motionless on a cold garage floor.

Hinchcliffe was dropping off a package at Richard Faulkner Sr.’s 89th Street Circle home Monday afternoon. He went to the front door and knocked. Nobody answered, but through the crack at the bottom of the garage door Hinchcliffe said he could hear a faint voice calling for help.

It was Faulkner and he said he couldn’t move. The house and garage were locked, and Faulkner’s wife, Donna, apparently was not home.

Faulkner, 62, needed help but Hinchcliffe didn’t know what happened.

“It was hard because I had no idea what was going on inside,” he said.

Hinchcliffe called 911. An ambulance crew arrived “very quickly,” he said, followed by a police officer who went to the back of the house and kicked in a service door so first responders could get to Faulkner.

Faulkner was wearing a T-shirt and jeans and was lying on the cold concrete, Hinchcliffe said. He’d likely fallen on a stair between the house and the attached garage. He said he’d been there for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

“There was a big pool of blood and he wasn’t moving,” Hinchcliffe recalled. “He was conscious but really wasn’t moving much.”

Paramedics transported Faulkner to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, according to the Cottage Grove Police Department. He was listed in good condition on Thursday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The Faulkners could not be reached immediately for comment. The police report did not detail Faulkner's injury.

Hinchcliffe typically doesn’t go to the Faulkners’ front door during his daily route. Their mailbox is at the street, but he was delivering a package and the Postal Service brings those to the door.

The package was addressed to “Mom and Dad,” Hinchcliffe said.

“I guess in a way it was fortunate that I was delivering it to them from the kids,” he said.

Hinchcliffe, 45, who used to live in Cottage Grove, has been delivering mail in the area for almost 20 years. He said he’s never had an experience similar to this but said postal workers help people from time to time.

“Carriers, they’re kind of always there,” he said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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