ST. CHARLES COUNTY • Her car was totaled, she was injured and hundreds of miles from home and her beloved golden retriever was missing.
Sitting in the shade of a tree on a parking lot in St. Charles last week, Mary Ellen Frazier was exhausted and feeling defeated.
Frazier, 57, was stranded in the area after she got into a car wreck Sept. 9 on Interstate 70 near the Cave Springs exit.
She had been moving to New Jersey from Alabama and had stopped off in Kansas City to visit a friend. Her SUV was packed full for the move.
She doesn’t remember all the details of the accident but said she started to feel sick. She plans to have some medical tests this week.
She swerved out of her lane, clipped the back of a truck, and her Honda CRV left the highway, overturning five times.
She spent several days in a hospital and had trouble contacting people who could help her because her cellphone and laptop were destroyed. She was living in a hotel until some friends could get her.
Her biggest worry, though, was her 6-year-old golden retriever, Bailey, who ran off after the wreck.
“People who don’t have a pet might not understand, but Bailey is my baby,” she said. “I love him dearly, and he loves me.”
On Friday, Frazier said, she started walking to a Subway shop about a quarter mile from her hotel. But she felt weak, so she sat down in the parking lot under a tree.
Cindy Kielty of St. Charles had just parked and was heading to the gym, but when she saw Frazier, she stopped. Frazier had visible bruises and looked like she was in pain.
“I thought, something’s not right, so I asked ‘Are you OK?’ ” Kielty said.
Frazier told Kielty about the crash, how she was all alone, and how she was desperate to find her dog.
“It’s just awful to be in that situation, to not to have anyone there that you know,” Frazier said. “But Cindy was so kind to me. She could have just walked into the fitness center and had her day, but no, she really rescued me.”
Kielty said she didn’t think twice about helping.
“She was so lost and needed help; and I think she was more worried about her dog than she was about herself,” she said.
Kielty drove Frazier back to her hotel and then went to the store to get her some over-the-counter pain medication.
She called several more times that day to check on Frazier and to make sure she had the number to the county animal shelter to check for her dog.
Kielty told her husband, Ken, a former St. Charles City Council member, about Frazier, and he started making phone calls.
He contacted St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano and told him about the accident and Frazier’s lost dog.
“The mayor basically put out an APB on that dog,” Ken Kielty said.
Pagano played down his role, saying that the city’s animal control division and police department had already been scouring the area for the dog.
“All we did was be a good neighbor, and put out a good welcome mat for the city of St. Peters,” he said.
When Frazier’s friends picked her up Saturday to take her to New Jersey, the dog was still missing.
But on Monday, she got the news she’d been praying for — St. Peters animal control had recovered Bailey after he was spotted near the accident scene.
The dog was in good shape except the pads on his feet were covered with abrasions.
“He apparently had been running up and down the highway (looking for Frazier),” said animal control officer Carol Schulte.
Ken Kielty drove to the animal shelter later that day, took a picture of Bailey and sent it to Frazier.
“I was able to see my boy, and I just cried and cried and cried,” Frazier said.
Frazier’s son drove from Alabama Wednesday to pick up the dog from the shelter. Bailey and Frazier should be reunited soon.
“I’m overwhelmed that people would go to these lengths for me, a stranger, and my dog,” Frazier said.