A guardian angel and his “rescue” were reunited at the La Jolla Light last week with hugs and thank yous all around.
La Jollan James Huddleston had been running a half marathon, as he usually does on Saturdays, when something went horribly wrong. On Dec. 6, he fell and became disoriented, likely from dehydration.
“I remember 100 feet before I fell,” Huddleston said, “but I don’t remember anything past that. The next thing I knew I was disoriented in my home almost 40 minutes later. I had an ever-so-vague recollection of getting into a vehicle.”
“I was surprised someone in this day and age would pick up a total stranger, especially when I had blood covering the entire left side of my face,” continued Huddleston. “I feel very lucky that someone helped me. I wanted to meet this person and just say thank you.”
Huddleston told his story to the Light in hopes of finding and meeting his good Samaritan, which turned out to be La Jollan Mike Newlee, a legal and medical malpractice and personal injury trial lawyer whose law office is in Old Town. Newlee had been out checking the surf Dec. 6 when he encountered Huddleston. They met again Dec. 12 at the Light,
with Newlee filling Huddleston in on the missing “pieces” of his “lost” 40 minutes.
“I read the article and I was just cracking up,” Newlee told Huddleston when they’d been reunited. “I’m glad you woke up in your house, because, when I dropped you off, you got out of the car and took off running.”
Newlee was chatting with a friend at Calumet Park when a bloodied Huddleston walked by with a face that reminded him of “one of those Phantom of the Opera masks,” one half red and the other white. We said, “Dude, what is up?” You said, “I tripped and I fell.” “You must have been going pretty fast,” answered Newlee.
A hurt-but-coherent Huddleston said he was going home and left. Newlee saw Huddleston while driving a couple of minutes later and decided to check up on him. “Hey, how you doing?,” Newlee asked. “I’m good,” Huddleston said. “You don’t look that good,” replied Newlee. “Where you going?” “My house,” answered Huddleston. “Why don’t you get in the car, I’ll give you a ride,” said Newlee.
After first refusing, Huddleston reluctantly agreed. Newlee said they had a nice conversation during the few minutes it took Newlee to drive him home. Huddleston, mentally, was there, but not there, pointed out Newlee, noting Huddleston introduced himself three different times. But he was able to tell him details about his personal background, which was the only thing that kept him from taking him to the emergency room rather than straight home.
Besides sharing a strange and unforgettable experience, the two men have at least one other thing in common: The incident served to reaffirm for both of them the conviction that people have a responsibility to look out for one another’s welfare.
Are we our brother’s keeper? “Shoot, I hope so,” said Newlee, adding, “You know what? I do. These days, people get robbed or beaten, and other people might take out their video camera and videotape it. I just think that’s so wrong. If I were as dinged as this guy, I hope someone would just pick me up and take me home.”
“I might have walked another mile and walked into a car or passed out and died,” said Huddleston. “You just never know.”