Mail carrier alerts neighbors to Ashton man that had medical issue

“At first I was worried,” Heath Mickley, a rural carrier near Ashton, said. “I didn't know if he was going to be OK. But then after I found out he was going to be alright, it felt pretty good that I did that. They said if he went another day, he might not have been around. It felt good to know that I helped."

‘I pulled up to his mailbox and noticed he hadn't picked it up all week’

ASHTON – Heath Mickley used to bowl with Allen Swegle. 

Mickley, a rural carrier who works for the United States Postal Service near Ashton, has also had Swegle on his route for 22 years. On Oct. 14, he noticed something strange. 

“He always checks his mail almost every day,” Mickley said. “This past year, I know his health has gotten a little bit bad, so maybe he would skip a day here or there. Thursday I pulled up to his mailbox and noticed he hadn't picked it up all week.”

Mickley decided to reach out to Ryan Messer, whose family lives across the street from Swegle and owns and takes care of his land. Mickley asked if Swegle had gone on vacation and was concerned something may have happened. 

“My stepmom, Stacey, went over there and asked me to come over too,” Messer said. “She got in the front door and he was laying in the living room and he was shaking and cold. He didn’t know how long he’d been there for, but you could tell it had been a few days. If Heath didn’t reach out, something much worse could’ve happened.”

Swegle was transported to Rochelle Community Hospital by ambulance. Messer and Mickley said he’s now “doing a lot better” after dealing with some weakness and dehydration. 

“It’s nice having somebody like a mailman who is around every day and pays attention to people’s routines,” Messer said. “He probably saved Al’s life.”

Mickley said the experience was the first time that something like it has ever happened in his postal service career. He said it’s sometimes tough to know when not everyone picks up their mail every day. 

“With Al, it's a good deal because he picks it up almost every day,” Mickley said. “So it clicked for me that there may be something wrong."

Mickley enjoys getting to know those on his route and a lot of his customers are farmers that have been around the area a long time. He hasn’t had a chance to talk with Swegle yet. He’s been delivering his mail to the Messers until Swegle can start getting around again. 

“At first I was worried,” Mickley said. “I didn't know if he was going to be OK. But then after I found out he was going to be alright, it felt pretty good that I did that. They said if he went another day, he might not have been around. I've known him probably since the mid 90s. He's a nice guy. It felt good to know that I helped."

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