Friendship couple rescued by visiting salesman

By Juliette Laaka | Nov 14, 2012
Photo by: Juliette Laaka Robert Phillips, of Rockland, rescued an elderly couple trapped in their Friendship home Nov. 9.

Cushing — A Friendship couple is recovering at Miles Memorial Hospital following an audacious rescue by an Aerus salesman checking in to see if they were satisfied with a vacuum he sold them.

Robert Phillips, of Rockland, was in Friendship on the afternoon of Nov. 9 for work. He had appointments scheduled with customers and made an impromptu visit to previous clients in town.

When Phillips arrived at the house, he noticed a vehicle in the driveway and a locked door. He knew somebody was home.

At the door, a weeping sound was audible and he "had a feeling something wasn't right." Phillips kicked in the door and found Harriet, 76, and Al Cummings, 91, wedged between their bed and the wall.

The couple had been stuck in that position for two days without food or water.

Phillips flagged down Jackie Freitas, of Friendship, who alerted the Cummings' neighbors Brenda and Henry Thompson to call 911, as Phillips did not have good cell phone reception. Freitas called for a second ambulance at the Cummings' home using a land line. The couple was transported by ambulance to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta.

Harriet's son, Shawn Smith of Waldoboro said the couple had carbon monoxide poisoning and sustained other unrelated injures. "They are recovering slowly and have a long road ahead of them," he said.

Phillips has spoken with Harriet, who calls him their guardian angel. Phillips said he never imagined himself to be in this situation and said he always tries to help people when possible.

"I'm just glad they're OK and I hope to see them soon," he said.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at



Comments (5)
Posted by: Tammy Rolfe | Nov 16, 2012 09:49

It's nice to know that there are still people out there who care enough to take that extra time for others.

Posted by: Jennie Demmons | Nov 15, 2012 21:03

Mr. Phillips you deserve a metal!!  Just think what could have happened to Mr. & Mrs. Cummings if it hadn't been for you.. There are not enough people like  Mr. Phillips around!!!  Thank you Mr. Phillips for your courageous deed... I pray that Mr. & Mrs. Cummings recover soon..  

Posted by: ronald van Heeswijk | Nov 15, 2012 06:19

Reminder for us all to check in daily.


Posted by: Brenda Thomas | Nov 15, 2012 06:11

That vacuum was the best investment Harriet and Al ever made! I hope they recover quickly.

Posted by: Judy Olson | Nov 14, 2012 08:21

Hopefully the Cummings will regain their health soon and kudos to Robert Phillips.  Fortunately Robert had time to visit with former customers and decided to check in with the Cummings,,,he very well could have called it a day and gone home after completing his scheduled appointments. 

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