Homeless rescuers given a 'miracle'

December 24, 2010 

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Joseph Edwards, left, and Bernice Gonzales get a monetary donation from a Foster Farms employee who didn’t want to be named Thursday morning. Edwards said the money will be used to get an apartment. Edwards risked his life Dec. 17 to pull people out of a car that had plunged into Bear Creek.

In the chilly Thursday morning air, Joseph Edwards and Bernice Gonzales got a Christmas present.

The homeless couple was given a donation from the employees of the Livingston plant of Foster Farms, and that money will get them into an apartment.

Edwards risked his life in the wee morning hours of Dec. 17 when a 2000 Volkswagen Beetle went off the road into Bear Creek at the G Street bridge. Edwards and his wife were huddled under the bridge that night, trying to stay warm and dry in the rain.

Four people were in the car that night, and all four are fine. Edwards pulled a couple of the people out of the car, which had flipped upside down in the cold water. According to their relatives, the four young adults are spending Christmas in various areas of the world, one in Dubai, one in Utah and one heading to Italy to study abroad this semester.

One of the employees at Foster Farms, who wished to remain anonymous, said that when she read the story about Edwards jumping into the cold water, she knew she had to do something.

"It's Christmas, and someone could be burying their family member right now. Instead, Joseph saved them," the woman said. "Those four people got their Christmas miracle, and we wanted to give Joseph and his wife their Christmas miracle."

In addition, Shauna Nunes and friends from Chowchilla and Hawaii donated two backpacks filled with a pouch of toiletries, gloves and head gear, two water bottles each, nonperishable food and gift certificates from McDonald's.

Edwards said that since the accident, people he sees on the street seem to be more caring. "People are saying hello. It's different from the way they treated us before because we're homeless," he said. "Now it's not like we're just regular homeless people. People are nicer."

When Edwards heard the car go into the creek, he said he didn't think about what he should do, he just jumped in.

"It's not something you sit and debate about," he said. "If you are able to do it, if it takes a little extra, it's OK, because it's for people who appreciate life," Edwards said.

The donation the Foster Farms employees made to Edwards and his wife will pay for an apartment, Edwards said.

"I'm going right now to give the money to the landlord," Edwards said Thursday morning. "And I'm going to get a little Christmas tree and put it right in the middle of the apartment. We'll enjoy our day on Christmas."

Edwards wanted to thank everyone who has donated to him and Gonzales.

"I'm blessed," he said simply.

And so are the four young people who will be enjoying Christmas with their families this season. Thanks to a couple living on the edge who pulled those youngsters back from another edge.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

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