The kindness of a stranger came in a hastily scrawled anonymous note that was posted on social media by a grateful Minneapolis couple and soon went viral.
For nearly a week, the mystery of the note had grown. Someone had slipped it into the pocket of Aaron Purmort just after he suffered a seizure that left him blacked out in his car in the middle of a busy intersection.
Turns out, the thoughtful stranger is Kyle Severson, a Minneapolis police officer who says it was all in a day’s work.
“I understand it’s a big deal for him because he’s in a rough spot in his life … and he really appreciates it, but for me, it was just a routine call,” Severson said Friday evening. “For me, it’s much to-do about nothing.”
An ambulance had taken Purmort, 34, to a hospital Jan. 31 after he lost consciousness while driving to his northeast Minneapolis home. He has been battling brain cancer and had apparently suffered a seizure.
After he awoke, he found a note in his jacket pocket: “Your car is parked in the tobacco shop parking lot at 18th Av. NE and Stinson,” it said.
Purmort had no memory of the event so his wife, Nora, posted a photo of the note on Facebook, with the couple’s thanks.
The act of kindness came as a heartwarming highlight after two years of postings that chronicled Aaron’s battle against cancer, including two brain surgeries and chemotherapy.
The posting, which has since been shared thousands of times, said:
“On Friday night, Aaron had a seizure while driving home. Miraculously, nobody was hurt. We have no idea who called 911 or moved our car to safety and left this note in Aaron’s jacket pocket, but we sure are grateful for them and their Minnesota spirit. … You saved my husband and that is pretty damn rad.”
After the story appeared in the Star Tribune on Wednesday, Severson was in roll call that afternoon when his superior asked the ranks who had left the note.
He fessed up, and Severson, a 16-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, fast became a media darling, with local TV crews showing up and a segment set for Saturday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.
It had started out as a “slumper call” — police lingo for someone slumped behind a wheel. Severson was only two blocks away, so he drove over and arrived just after another officer. A woman who called 911 reported that she thought a driver had a seizure.
The driver had been heading north on Stinson and was going to make a turn to head west on 18th Avenue NE. when his car stopped. Severson, in his low-key way, recounted what happened next:
“It was running, and it was in gear,” the officer said.
Severson pulled his squad car to the rear of Purmort’s car to ensure it didn’t roll backward into traffic.
“When I got there, he was passed out,” the officer said. “I knocked on the glass and he started moving his head a little bit. He couldn’t move anything else.”
Paramedics arrived, and so did a third officer. Purmort came to enough to unlock his door. He also turned off his ignition.
The ambulance crew decided Purmort needed to go to a hospital.
“I asked him if he wanted me to park it for him, and he said he doesn’t drive, he just takes the bus,” Severson said.
“I figured we’d park it for him. I didn’t think he’d remember where the car was, so I just wrote a quick note so that when he found his keys, he’d know where his car was,” Severson said.
If the original story about Nora Purmort’s posting of thanks hadn’t made the paper and the roll call question hadn’t followed, “I wouldn’t have thought twice about it,” the officer said.
It had taken him all of 10 seconds to write the note, which has led to a bit of teasing for the officer over his penmanship.
“Yeah, it’s kind of atrocious there,” Severson admitted, laughing. “I did not make my kindergarten teacher proud. If I knew it was going to be put in the paper and on the Internet, I would have taken a couple more seconds and concentrated.”