This beautiful story was shared on USA Today about a man who finally got to meet the stranger that was responsible for saving his life on that fateful day 30 years ago.
On March 1, 1985, John Rieken was riding his prized Harley Davidson toward Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when he was struck by a driver who ran a stop sign. While he was wearing a helmet, his face took the brunt of the fall and he suffered multiple skull fractures.
A young pediatric resident, Dr. Ann Kay Cefalu, happened to be heading home at the exact same time of Rieken’s accident. When she arrived, he had no pulse. She sprang into action, giving Rieken chest compressions and breathing air into his lungs. It took up to 10 minutes for the paramedics to arrive.
After more than a month in the hospital, and multiple surgeries, Rieken got to go home. He remembers next to nothing about the accident, except that someone was there helping him, saving him. He and his wife, Pam Rieken, sought to learn the identity of Cefalu but they were given vague details since it was a time before the internet was prevalent.
After finally admitting defeat, thinking that there was no way they would find their savior, his wife was at a surgical center when she saw a young doctor with the name Charles Cefalu. She asked Charles the same question she had asked countless times- if he knew any of the Cefalus from the Independence area, and he said “Maybe my aunt.” He called her and asked if she remembered anything about a motorcycle accident in 1985. It turns out she definitely did- so he gave Pam his aunt’s phone number. They soon met up, where they shared a long and special hug, a big thank you, and a nice long chat. Rieken’s wife was incredibly thankful that she found her because she feels like she owes Cefalu for the magnificent life she’s been able to have with her husband.
The pair hug goodbye, but just for now, as an ongoing friendship starts to evolve, decades after it began.