Marco Perea doesn't consider himself heroic but his actions on Monday likely saved the life of an Escondido woman who suffered a fall in her senior living community apartment.
Perea and Barbara Norbeck, a woman in her 80s, were reunited for the first time on Wednesday after what Norbeck said was a life-saving moment.
Norbeck fell sometime on Sunday and was likely on the floor of her Casa Escondida apartment, immobile, for at least 24 hours before she was found by Perea, a water delivery employee for Palomar Mountain Spring Water.
"I really appreciate you being there," Norbeck said to Perea at their reunion. "I heard your voice and I knew who it was but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was scary for this old lady."
Perea delivers water to the senior woman every two weeks, and most times the two have a conversation, cracking jokes with each other, as Perea helps mount the jugs onto her water stands.
But on Monday, their interaction was different. Perea said that although he could hear Norbeck speaking through the door, she sounded disoriented. Immediately, Perea knew something wasn't right.
"She usually knows who I am... She goes 'Marco,' 'Polo,'" he explained.
But this time, Norbeck didn't come to the door.
"She was like, 'I think I fell, I broke my ribs and my arms.'"
So Perea ran to find help and eventually called 911 when no one could get into the woman's unit.
As paramedics responded, Perea talked to Norbeck through the door.
"The first thing she asked for was water," he said with a laugh. She told him, "'I want some small bottles.' I say, "Don’t worry about that, let’s just worry about you right now.'"
When the door was finally open, "She was on the ground as we were walking up, and she was shaking," Perea said. "She was probably all day and all night on the ground."
Paramedics placed Norbeck in an ambulance and took her to a local hospital for treatment. Perea said it was as the woman was taken out of her apartment that he knew she would recover.
"She heard my voice and she said, "Who’s that?' and 'Marco,' 'Polo,'" he said.
Norbeck was released from the hospital on Wednesday and doctors said that despite believing she broke several bones, she was only left with several bumps and bruises.
"I hurt all over, more than any place else," she joked. "It was an experience that I never want to go through again."
The woman grasped Perea's hand as she thanked him over and over for finding her; "My hero, Marco," she said.
The water delivery worker's quick action wasn't out of the ordinary; he said it's natural for him to help others and would do it for anyone.
"If somebody needs help, and I can do it, why not," Perea said. "I just feel happy that I was able to help her and take care of her because who knows what would have happened to her."
Perea has been with Palomar Mountain Spring Water for about eight months and has been delivering water to the senior woman since he started his route.
Norbeck said she plans on buying more water so she can see Perea more often.