BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The family of Salvatore Melillo believes there is an angel among us after Princepelina Mendez, a US Postal worker, saved his life after finding the 84 year-old unconscious inside his home on December 10 and called 911.
"Her gut knew something wasn't right and she acted on it," said Carla Pastore, Melillo's niece. "In turn, she saved my Uncle Sal's life."
Call it intuition that Mendez was concerned when finding Melillo's door opened a crack during her normal delivery. She called for him with no answer. Although she was concerned, she thought he was probably upstairs and she didn't think it was anything she should pursue.
When she arrived the next day and the door was opened wider, her gut told her immediately that something was very wrong. She once again called and called to him with no answer. She chose to step inside and saw him lying on the floor a few steps up. "He was cold, his face was very bruised, his breathing was shallow and he was unresponsive," said Pastore. "She told him to hang in there and that she was getting him help."
She saw a tear roll down his face and ran to her truck to get her cell phone to call 911.
Pastore, who lives a few doors down from her uncle, was outside at the time and Mendez called to her to come over. "She was clearly upset for him and just kept saying, 'Please let him be ok,'" said Pastore.
"It's people like Princess that add so much to our community," said Pastore. "It's a wonderful feeling to know that we have another member of our community who looks out for others."
Mendez is not just a mail carrier -- she gets to know the customers on her route and takes a personal interest in them.
It was reported that Mendez did not tell anyone of what happened and was reprimanded for being 20 minutes off the clock. The Postmaster received a letter from Melillo's family praising Mendez of her heroic actions.
Mendez has been delivering mail for 23 years, and has been on this route for 15 of those years. She has known Sal and his wife Vicki, who passed away a few years ago. Mendez had became more concerned about "Uncle Sal" being alone after his wife's passing. "She told me she worries about him because he is older and since she has a mom that is aging as well, it makes her all the more concerned for him," said Pastore.
Melillo, a retired Newark Detective and postal worker, is an active elderly man who attends church daily and spends many days meeting with his friends. Uncle Sal has not had health issues that would be a problem to live alone, said Pastore.
He remains in the hospital in stable condition and hopes to be home for Christmas. He wants to personally thank Mendez as soon as he is released from the hospital. "I know he is very touched by her compassion and having the intuition to know there was something wrong," said Pastore. "I don't know how you show someone your appreciation for saving their life, but if I know my Uncle Sal, the minute he is able to, he will do everything he can to let her know she is his hero."