For one Iowa couple, true love lasted until the very end. Married 72 years, Norma, 90, and Gordon Yeager, 94, died in the hospital holding hands last week, one hour apart. The couple was hospitalized after a car accident just outside of Marshalltown, Iowa. They were given a shared room in the ICU where they held hands in adjacent beds.Sweet story, huh? Okay, not to be a bummer wet blanket, but there's a part of this tale that hasn't gotten the publicity. If you dig a little deeper, you'll find this article, with the following information.
At 3:38 pm last Wednesday, Gordon's breathing stopped. Though he was no longer alive, his heart monitor continued to register a beat. The nurse told Gordon and Norma's son, Dennis Yeager, that the monitor was beeping "because they're holding hands, and [Norma's heart beat] is going through them," Dennis recalled in an interview with Des Moines' KCCI news station. "Her heart was beating through him."
Norma died at 4:38 pm, exactly one hour later.
Gordon and Norma's children say they're glad the couple passed this way. "They just loved being together," says Dennis. "He always said, 'I can't go until she does because I gotta stay here for her.' And she would say the same thing."
The accident that claimed Gordon, 94, and Norma Yeager, 90, happened Oct. 12, when the couple left their State Center home for a drive shortly after 8 a.m. At the intersection of Highway 30 and Jessup Avenue, just west of Marshalltown, Gordon pulled "away from the stop sign and failed to yield to a westbound vehicle," according to Sgt. Joel Ehler of the Iowa State Patrol.
The driver of the other car, Charles Clapsaddle, 64, of Marshalltown, was unable to stop to avoid a collision, Ehler said.
Clapsaddle was treated and released from Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, but his wife, Barbara, was reportedly transferred to Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. A man who identified himself as their son, John, said in a comment published on a story on the Times-Republican website that his mother suffered internal bleeding and a broken neck.
“She is currently stable but remains in the critical care unit,” he wrote. “There will be a long road ahead for her recovery.
Ehler said Yeager was facing pending action by the Iowa Department of Transportation to have his license removed, but citing privacy concerns, said he could release no additional details on what prompted that action.So the story behind the story is that old Mr. Yeager probably should never have been behind the wheel and now a woman has a broken neck (doesn't that mean paralysis of some kind?) and a long, long recovery ahead of her. One can only imagine the financial devastation this will cause to her as well.
I say shame on the news media for focusing solely on the touching details--the wife's heartbeat on the monitor is quite powerful--and not taking the opportunity to educate the public on the dangers of elderly drivers. As one commenter on this site put it:
"My prayers are for Barbara Clapsaddle & her family. Mr. Yeager should never have been behind the wheel of that car. I lost my husband to an elderly driver, and I am disappointed in this article--a missed opportunity to bring to attention the horrible ramifications of some elderly drivers who selfishly refuse to give up driving and their children who cannot be bothered to take responsibility."What say you?