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Mailman rescues woman who cried for help for 20 hours

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MINTO -- On Thursday Josh Hefta received the Postmaster General Award at the Minto post office.

It's the highest award a mail carrier can receive.

He will also have his named added to the Heroes Wall at the Postal Service headquarters in Washington D.C.

Hefta received it for saving a woman's life earlier this year.

He was caught off guard by the pomp and circumstance when he returned from his route.

“I'm quite honored actually; I've never had anything like this happen to me. Pretty big honor,” he said.

The woman Josh saved was at Thursday’s ceremony. It's the first time they have been reunited since that January day.

And if it wasn't for their special bond the outcome likely would have been much different.

Josh Hefta has 162 stops on his rural Walsh County route.

"I've gotten to know a lot of people," he said.

But one person stands out.

“Alice was just a nice lady, and she was out there by herself,” explained Hefta.

94-year-old Alice Paschke lived down a gravel road.

“Just a good mailman and I can't forget him,” commented Alice.

And since the fall.

“When it started getting pretty cold in the fall we started going up to her house every day and bringing it to her cuz she was getting slower,” explained Hefta.

But on one cold day in January.  

“I knocked really loud again,” recalled Hefta.

A red flag….

“I thought I could hear a faint somebody in the house," said Hefta.

Alice had fallen; she was too weak to pull herself up. She was on the floor for 20 hours. She couldn't reach the phone and knew she had one chance when Josh would bring her mail to the door at 12:45.  

“I said come in, I need help, who was it, that guy, he saved my life and that's a true story,” said Alice with a laugh.

“I didn't know what to do, didn't know if I could break a door open,” explained Hefta.

But that’s what he did.

“I hit it pretty good twice and it popped up. Adrenaline I guess,” said Hefta.

“I thought I was in heaven already,” said Alice explaining what it was like when Josh came through the door.

“His first two statements were his apologies for breaking the door, I told him that should be the last of your worries,” said Alice’s son Chet.

Now Alice lives in this Grafton Nursing Home, someone else's mail stop.

“I like how he doesn't come see me, but I come see him,” Alice joked.

And Josh no longer gets the midafternoon snack Rice Krispie treats and a can of Coke

“Now I got to pack my own drinks,” said Hefta with a laugh.

Josh may have lost his favorite stop along the route, but gained a friendship like none other.

“For the rest of my life, for as long as my memory works, I'm going to remember,” said Alice.

Josh says part of his training to be a mail carrier includes making sure to check on people along the route who may be vulnerable.