Melissa Schofield and Mary Ellen Meuris stood together holding hands.
The two were already friendly acquaintances, but after Meuris helped save Schofield’s life, they now consider each other as family.
Schofield, a crossing guard from Mt. Greenwood, slipped, fell and became unconscious while on the job near St. John Fisher Elementary School (SJF) in Beverly on Nov. 20.
Meuris, a Chicago Police Department officer in the 22nd District, was on duty nearby and became aware that Schofield was in danger.
Working with other first responders and bystanders, Meuris performed CPR on Schofield until the crossing guard was transported to Little Company of Mary Hospital.
The two reunited for the first time on Nov. 25 at the 22nd District police station, and Schofield, who is expected to make a full recovery, tearfully expressed her gratitude.
“I was overwhelmed that someone jumped right in when I was in need to make sure that I was safe,” Schofield said. “I can never thank her enough.”
Meuris, a parent of triplets who graduated from SJF, is familiar with the school’s routine each morning in ushering students into the building. She regularly stations herself near a traffic light by the school to deter speeders.
Each morning, she strikes up a conversation with Schofield, who is on duty on the 2700 block of West 103rd Street. She did the same on Nov. 20, but moments after they parted, another crossing guard yelled for help in reviving Schofield, who believes she slipped and hit her head.
A swarm of others, including on-duty officers, a nearby off-duty officer and two bystanders, joined Meuris in assisting the woman.
Meuris said she saw the woman’s chest wasn’t rising, indicating she wasn’t breathing. Meuris admitted that she became fearful as the situation unfolded, but everyone worked together.
“It took a village, and that day, the village triumphed,” Meuris said. “Thank god.”
Meuris was joined at the 22nd District for the reunion by several officers who were on the scene, but she is still seeking to identify two bystanders whom she called “godsend angels.”
Both are women, Meuris said, including a nurse who took Schofield’s pulse and calmed down Meuris. The officer hopes they contact the 22nd District so she and Schofield can thank them.
Meuris also said the school community rallied together. Parents formed a wall around Schofield to provide privacy.
“St. John Fisher is a very close-knit community,” Meuris said. “Many parents stopped and were helping. The teachers came out. My colleagues came right away. They started doing traffic control to keep myself safe and Melissa safe.”
Schofield said that morning started “like any other day,” seeing many familiar faces at SJF, but after standing in the street while assisting students, she only remembers waking up at the hospital and feeling frightened.
Tests came back negative, and she and Meuris remained in communication at the hospital.
She said the assistance from Meuris in her most vulnerable moment was outstanding.
“It’s a surreal thing, quite honestly, to know that you weren’t aware of your surroundings for a period of time, to feel like you have no idea what was going on, and you’re in the middle of the street, and you are completely dependent on the people around you because you’re not able to take care of yourself,” Schofield said. “What she did to make sure I was OK and safe, it means the world to me. It means the world to my family. I told her later, when she sent me a text at the hospital, I said, ‘You are forever going to be in my family.’ And the same thing with the other crossing guard. ... It’s a busy corner. She just jumped right into action.”
22nd District Commander Richard Wiser said similar situations happen daily throughout the city. He said Meuris was trained to respond in such a way, and he praised the community.
“Everyone did a great job,” Wiser said. “It’s just a good example of when everyone works together how well things can turn out.”
Meuris said ending her shift that day “was a phenomenal feeling.” She now enjoys a friendship with Schofield “that will last forever.”
Schofield said she will always feel blessed that the officer was in the right place at the time.
“I was lucky,” Schofield said, “that one of the best people who could have been there was there.”