BROWNVILLE — For 16 years, Gwennie Jantzi has essentially lived with a man who was struck by a vehicle last Friday evening.
She’s home — he remains in the hospital — as she hopes for the full recovery of a man whom she finds kind, helpful and always walking or riding his bike around the area.
On Oct. 9 at about 8:45 p.m., Paul R. Sanford, 78, was walking to the store like he does on many nights — perhaps for a soft drink or a snack — when he was hit by a pickup truck as he attempted to cross the intersection at Bridge Street and Route 12E.
Mr. Sanford was taken by ambulance to the Watertown International Airport before being airlifted to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse. He had been in critical condition, but is expected to survive.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Upstate Medical University said Mr. Sanford remained in the hospital and was in serious condition.
Ms. Jantzi, also 78 years old, has been the landlord of a house on East Main Street in Brownville for at least 50 years. She lives there, too, cooking two meals a day for the handful of residents who have a room there. That includes Mr. Sanford, who has a bedroom in the back of the house and eats lunch and dinner on most days, all prepared by Ms. Jantzi.
Mr. Sanford has become somewhat of a fabric of the community as the man on the bike, or the man on his feet walking. Ms. Jantzi confirms that, saying he is constantly going for a walk or bike ride — sometimes to Walmart for groceries for something she needs, or sometimes just anywhere he wants. But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t shocked when she heard it was him who was hit by a car.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I felt so bad for him.”
Even though she speaks with him almost every day, she doesn’t know much about his past. He told many stories of growing up in the area and farming. He once told her that he sold newspapers on Public Square or washed dishes at the House of the Good Samaritan, but he at times remains a mystery to her. But it doesn’t matter too much to her. She listens to his stories and lets them be that, knowing he has a good heart and a kind soul, she said.
“It didn’t matter what the heck I asked, he would be there,” she said. “He is wonderful. He is a good guy.”