Editor’s Note: If you are the good samaritan/mystery man mentioned in this story, or if you know who the man is, contact News Reporter Emily Topper at email@example.com to be put in touch with the Shepherd family.
Carole Shepherd has no memory of Thursday, Oct. 15.
The Plant City resident, who has lived in the same house on North Wheeler Street for the last 46 years, doesn’t remember waking up that morning. She doesn’t remember delaying her early morning walk with her husband, Tom, so that he could have blood work done. She doesn’t remember what she wore or what she said.
She especially doesn’t remember anything after 9:20 a.m.
The Shepherds had been finishing their walk, albeit later than usual, when Carole Shepherd collapsed from sudden cardiac and respiratory arrest behind Bruton Memorial Library on Thomas Street.
But what happened next was something that Tom Shepherd will never forget.
THE MYSTERY MAN
The day started off like any other. The Shepherds, ready to greet the neighborhood dogs, began their usual morning walk. Seeing the neighborhood’s four-legged friends gave Carole Shepherd, a life-long dog lover and owner, a pep in her step. The Shepherds knew their neighbors by the kinds of dogs they ran into — two labradors, the white poodle, the Springer spaniel.
As the neighbors finished walking their dogs, they disappeared into their houses.
When Carole Shepherd collapsed no one was around — or so Tom Shepherd thought.
As the dispatcher on the phone spoke with Tom Shepherd, a man walked across the street with his dog — one that Tom Shepherd wasn’t familiar with.
The man tied his dog to a tree and then began to perform CPR on Carole Shepherd. As he did CPR, his dog barked.
“He did it for probably two to three minutes,” Tom Shepherd said. “She didn’t respond, there was no response.”
As the EMTs arrived, Carole Shepherd gagged. The man apologized to Tom Shepherd. He worried that he had broken one of her ribs while performing CPR.
The EMTs tried to keep her conscious.
Carole, stay with us.
The man untied his dog from the tree.
Carole, stay with us.
The man turned to Tom Shepherd. “Good luck, Mr. Shepherd.”
Stunned that the mystery man knew his name, Tom Shepherd turned from his wife to thank him.
He was gone.
Though there are some things Tom Shepherd can’t erase from his memory that day — his wife being airlifted to the hospital, the EMTs performing CPR — he can’t remember what the mystery man or the man’s dog looked like.
“I can’t describe him for the money in the world,” Tom Shepherd said. “I didn’t know he was there until he was there.”
The only details that Tom Shepherd can remember is that the the man may have been 40 years old or younger, and the dog was most likely between 35 to 40 pounds.
The Shepherds are especially surprised that the man knew their last name, which Tom Shepherd does not remember telling him. For as long as they have taken their morning walks, they have never seen the man or his dog before.
“That caught me off guard,” Tom Shepherd said. “It still does.”
The Shepherds have tried to find the man to thank him, but have not had any luck.
“He just disappeared like he appeared,” Tom Shepherd said. “He didn’t hang around. He hasn’t contacted us. If he knew us, he could come by here.”
THE WHITE DOG
Carole Shepherd was first taken to South Florida Baptist Hospital and then airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Carole Shepherd was hooked up to life support. The prognosis wasn’t good.
The doctors told the family that they should begin preparing themselves for the harsh reality: Carole Shepherd may not live and, if she did, she would likely experience some kind of brain damage.
Left with no other choice, all the family could do was wait.
As Carole Shepherd lay unconscious in a hospital bed, she dreamed.
She dreamed of a big white dog that was resting on top of her. It was staring at her. It was protecting her.
Behind the white dog was a field of green grass and blue sky. Hundreds of other, smaller dogs sat in the grass, watching the big dog. She felt safe.
“They (the little dogs) were only there for support,” Carole Shepherd said. “The big dog was in charge.”
Suddenly, the dogs scattered. They didn’t have leashes, and that worried her.
“If it wasn’t real, I have a vivid imagination,” Carole Shepherd said. “But I swear it was real. I felt him on me.”
Carole Shepherd woke.
She felt scared in the hospital room and thought that she was in a bad dream.
“The only thing that gave me any peace was that there was a cross above the door,” Carole Shepherd said.
Amazed that she was awake and that there was no brain damage, the doctors and nurses told Carole Shepherd that her survival was a miracle. One of the heart technicians told her that she had a new birthday: Oct. 15.
After hearing about her vivid dream, the nurses at the hospital bought Carole Shepherd a white fluffy dog from the hospital gift shop. The dream holds a special place in Carole Shepherd’s heart, especially after hearing that the man who saved her life had a dog.
“It’s such a spiritual thing,” Carole Shepherd said. “I’ve been a dog person since I was a baby. They’ve all had special places in my heart.”
She believes the man who saved her life may have been led to her by his dog.
“Dogs have that sense of danger and illness,” Carole Shepherd said. “The dog might have wanted to go that way. Until I can meet him and hear his story, I’ll always wonder.”
SPREADING THE FAITH
Following her recovery, Carole Shepherd believes that God still has plans for her.
“It is just a blessing that I’m alive,” Carole Shepherd said. “I am blessed, and that’s what every day is about now. Each day has got to count for something. Whenever He thinks I’ve accomplished what I need to do, I’ll be ready to go. Those things are yet unknown, but I’m ready.”
The family has vowed to never take things for granted following Carole Shepherd’s miracle.
“If people can read this story and one heart is touched, it’s worth everything that happened to me,” Carole Shepherd said. “I think that’s what it’s all about. We have to try to do His will here on Earth.”
With Carole Shepherd recovering, the family has one more goal: to find the Good Samaritan.
Based on where the man was walking, the Shepherd family believes that he may live on or around Franklin Street, or somewhere in the Historic District. Carole Shepherd wrote a letter to express her gratitude.
“I need to find this man and his dog, whom I consider an angel walking out by God,” she wrote. “I have no doubt God will richly bless him for all he has done.”
Contact Emily Topper at firstname.lastname@example.org.