'What would you do?' Good Samaritan who saved woman from cold hopes to set example

When Penny Tasco peered through her window and spotted an elderly woman wearing a housecoat, she didn't hesitate to bring her in out of the cold. She wants her act of kindness to set an example for others.

When Penny Tasco spotted an elderly stranger wandering outside in frigid conditions, she didn't hesitate

Good Samaritan's 'amazing actions' saved woman from cold

5 years ago
Duration 1:49
Ottawa paramedics are praising a "Good Samaritan" who brought a woman in her 80s in from the freezing cold in south Ottawa Tuesday morning, potentially saving her from serious injuries.

Tuesday morning was shaping up like any other for Penny Tasco, as she listened to the weather forecast before jumping in the shower.

Hearing it was –27 with the windchill and that snow was on the way, Tasco peeked outside her home on Paul Anka Drive around 6:15 a.m. to see how much she was going to have to brush off of her car. That's when she noticed something wasn't right. 

Peering out her window, Tasco saw an elderly woman wearing only pyjama pants, a pink housecoat and socks, wandering down the street in the frigid morning air.

Tasco acted immediately.

"I just shoved my pants on, ran downstairs, threw my jacket on, brought her in, warmed her up," Tasco told CBC News. 

'I just hugged her'

Tasco threw her jacket over the woman's shoulders and took her inside where she covered her in blankets, changed her socks and cranked up the fireplace as they waited for paramedics to arrive.

Think about them being your own family or someone you know. What would you do in that situation?- Penny Tasco, Good Samaritan

"I just hugged her and embraced her because, you know, she's an old lady," Tasco said. 

She said the woman, who appeared to be in her 80s, was incoherent, so Tasco was unable to ascertain where she'd come from.

"I think she came from the park because she had twigs all over her nightgown," Tasco said.

The Ottawa Paramedic Service shared details of the incident in a news release in which it praised the "Good Samaritan" for rescuing the woman. Paramedics said the woman suffered minor frostbite and hypothermia, but was in stable condition. 

"Without the intervention of this Good Samaritan, the patient might have suffered serious injuries from the cold during the ... frostbite advisory," said paramedics in the release. The advisory has since ended.

'We need good stories like this'

Tasco admitted she was hesitant to do an interview about her act of kindness, but her coworkers convinced her to go public "because we need good stories like this," she said. "That's just the natural thing you do."

She said she hopes to set an example for others to follow.

"The only reason that I'm doing the interview is just to show others that they should welcome people in their homes the same way. I know the world is a terrible place today, but there still are some good people, and think about them being your own family or someone you know. What would you do in that situation? I have good parents that raised me well."

Neither Ottawa paramedics nor police could explain why the elderly woman was outside without proper winter clothing, or where she had come from before she was spotted.

Woman returned to family

Audio from the dispatch calls, provided by Broadcastify, provides some information.

"Just wondering if you could notify police to see if they have any active missing people. We have an elderly female, no ID, approximately 80 years old. Speaks mainly Polish. And we have very little information at this time," the dispatcher says on the recording.

Ottawa police spokesperson Const. Chuck Benoit said the woman had not been reported missing, and was later returned home to family nearby.

With files from Sandra Abma