Elderly Man Dies Shoveling

An elderly New Hampshire man shoveling outside his Barrington home went into cardiac arrest and collapsed Monday. Two men stopped to help, but it wasn't enough.

Now, the story is impacting neighbors, other elderly people who say this could have easily happened to them.

At 80 years old, Noel Spruce still lived alone on Rt. 9 in Barrington. His friends called him, "Skip."

"He was a nice guy," said his friend, George Burns, who spoke through tears.

Burns has lived across the street for decades.

"He would come help me and vice versa," Burns said.

He told NECN is is no surprise that Skip was outside shoveling during Monday's storm.

"He was always doing something very active, he's not one to sit in house all day long," Burns explained.

Prouxl Oil and Propane delivery driver Les Haskell found Spruce motionless in the snow.

"I put the truck in reverse, backed up, jumped out, and started calling and there was no response," Haskell said.

When Haskell realized Spruce was barely breathing, he called 911 and started CPR. Within minutes, a plow truck driver also stopped and jumped in to help.

"I just got a call from his daughter today thanking me for finding him," Haskell said. "I know if I was in the same situation I would hope someone else would stop."

Barrington Fire Chief Rick Walker says it took the ambulance about 8 minutes to get there. He says longer than it should have because of the storm.

"The snow was coming down, the roads were snow covered and slippery," Chief Walker said.

When asked if a few minutes could have made a difference, Walker said, "I'm not sure."

Spruce died at a nearby hospital.

"That's it about us old people," Burns said. "We are stubborn."

Burns says when you've done something you're whole life, it's hard to ask for help. Even at 77 years old, Burns is guilty of doing most everything on his own.

"I just shoveled all of that," he said while turning on his snow blower.

But he says from now on he plans to take it easier, and he hopes others will too.

"Watch what you're doing when you're shoveling snow," Burns said. "If you're tired quit for a while if you want to keep on living."

Emergency officials are warning residents that while the snow fall has been light and fluffy, it's starting to get packed down and heavier. Chief Walker says as soon as you feel any discomfort or shortness of breath, stop shoveling and if get any pain in your chest or tingling in your arms, call 911.

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