5 Metro Detroit letter carriers honored for heroism

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Naseem Elias helped save a woman's 9-month-old baby after it stopped breathing.

Of 10 letter carriers being honored for heroism in the country, half are from Metro Detroit, officials announced. 

The National Association of Letter Carriers Heroes of the Year will be honored at a luncheon in Washington D.C. on Wednesday for their actions in the last year. 

Of those honored from Michigan, Brandon Franklin of Waterford, who sprinted after a runaway Jeep whose driver had fallen unconscious and then in acrobatic fashion dove headfirst through the window to navigate the vehicle to safety as it neared a school zone, is Central Region Hero of the Year.

It was last September when Franklin was on his normal route through West Bloomfield when he saw a Jeep with its hazard lights on, moving slowly and swerving lanes. He said he looked inside but didn't see anyone in it at first. After circling around, he saw a woman slumped over at the wheel, passed out, he said. 

"I parked the truck and started running as fast as I could to catch up to the car," said Franklin, 23. "We were coming to an intersection at a school and I couldn't get the door open, but part of the window was open so I jumped in and was hanging inside the window while the car was going 25 mph."

He attempted to turn the car off but had to throw his body to get his hand to reach the brake pedal. 

"I was able to get the Jeep stopped and put in park right before the intersection at the school," he said. "We called 911 and I was able to wake her up... they think she had a drug overdose."

Franklin has been a letter carrier for three years and said he never thought he was being heroic. 

"When I got the call about the award, my first thought was I'm not a hero, I was just doing something good for someone," he said. "I feel honored but undeserving."

Naseem Elias of Sterling Heights, who speaks six languages and whose fluent Arabic helped save a resident’s baby, will be honored with the Special Carrier Alert award.

On Aug. 14, 2017, Elias was working on his route around noon when he heard a woman scream for police. He followed the scream from blocks away and found a mother carrying a nine-month-old begging for help when her baby stopped breathing. 

The woman was no stranger, he said. He met her a couple weeks prior after she moved from Egypt and doesn't speak English. 

"I told her if you need any help to let me know, I'll be on this route once a week and she was very happy to see a mailman speak her language," said Elias. "When the accident happened, she ran into the street to a man... she was trying to tell him to call the police but he told her to (go away) at the time."

Elias waited for police and medical team to arrive and stayed with the mother as an interpreter. 

"Two weeks after I knocked on her door to say hi... when she saw me she started crying and said 'you are my hero the God sent'," he said. "... USPS has a lot of employees and each one has different skills and experience and this is one of them when a mailman speaks more than one language can help people like this mom."

And Dennis Denham from Detroit, Steven Futach and Joseph Pomante both from Harrison Township, will receive the Unit Citation award for helping save elderly residents experiencing a medical crisis.

"I was delivering mail and saw my customer was laying under his truck in a pool of blood," said Denham. "As I got closer he was quietly screaming for help."

Denham said the man was working when he slipped on his oxygen tank and hit his head on the concrete. He quickly aided calling 911.

"I've been working as a mailman for three years now and haven't had another instance like this," he said. "I was very honored that they recognized me for it."


Twitter: @SarahRahal_