An off-duty nurse, a football player, and athletic trainer affiliated with the University of Iowa provided timely assistance after a UI Hospitals & Clinics volunteer suffered injuries in a fall.
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(From left) Rania Schreiber, MSN, RN; Luke Lachey; Mary Ellen Lewis; and Dylan Mathers, MS, pose for a photo. Lewis, a volunteer with UI Hospitals & Clinics, received help from the other three after she fell on the sidewalk near Duane Banks Field and suffered injuries.

Rania Schreiber, MSN, RN, a nursing practice leader with UI Health Care, was walking her usual route to her car after work on Feb. 7 when she saw a woman headed past her with visible injuries on her face.

The woman was Mary Ellen Lewis, a volunteer at UI Hospitals & Clinics, who had fallen on the sidewalk near Duane Banks Field and was now trying to wipe up the blood with some napkins. 

“Mary Ellen’s face was beet red from her forehead to her chin,” Schreiber says. “She told me she lived close, but she wasn’t able to remember where she was walking to. Right away I was concerned.”

Lewis had been walking home the long way from an event at Finkbine Golf Course. While she’s still unsure how she fell, Lewis is thankful Schreiber stopped her because she didn’t realize how bad her injuries were at the time. 

“I decided to keep walking home and that’s when my guardian angel, Rania, stopped me and asked if I was OK,” Lewis says. “I just can’t thank her enough. I honestly don’t know where I would’ve ended up if she hadn’t stopped me.” 

“We always use the saying ‘Hawks helping Hawks.’ I’ve gotten to feel the support of Hawkeye nation on Saturdays, but out in the community I’ve also found out just how nice everyone is and how willing they all are to help out.”

Luke Lachey
tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes

While Schreiber tried to help Lewis clean up, she saw someone walking out of the Hansen Football Performance Center and called out to him for help. 

“I thought that if he was parked here, then maybe he could drive her home,” Schreiber says. “It wasn’t safe for her to walk, and my car was far away.” 

The man leaving the facility was Iowa football tight end Luke Lachey, who was on his way to a volunteering event when he heard Rania’s voice. 

Lachey initially offered to drive Lewis home, but he instead suggested that she get checked out by one of the athletic trainers after he saw how bad her injuries were. 

“If I see someone on the side of the street with a bloody nose, obviously I’m going to stop to see if I can help,” Lachey says. “Instead of taking her home right away, I thought I could get her fixed up and evaluated, so I called my trainer and took Mary Ellen over to the football center.”

Rania Schreiber portrait

Rania Schreiber

Dylan Mathers, MS, assistant athletic trainer for the Iowa football team, got a call that Lachey was at the entrance to the facility and needed some assistance.

She was surprised when she got to the door and saw Lachey standing there with an injured Lewis. 

“I was a little concerned that she had a broken nose because she had quite a bit of swelling,” Mathers says. “Luckily, her nose and mouth were OK, and we only had to do wound care before we could send her on her way.” 

Once Mathers finished her evaluation, she offered to give Lewis a ride home and suggested that she go to a nearby UI QuickCare location to get checked out further. Lewis took her advice and was cleared of any major injuries by the QuickCare team and later her primary care physician. 

Since the event, Schreiber and Lewis have formed a lasting friendship. 

“On my way home, I kept thinking about how I didn’t get any of their names or contact information,” Schreiber says. “I needed to know if she got home OK, so I looked up the roster for the football team, and I reached out to Luke through his university email.” 

Lachey told her Lewis had gotten home safely and sent her Lewis’ information. 

The two continue to keep in touch over the phone and will sometimes try to see each other in the hospital when Lewis is volunteering. 

“Everybody was so kind and compassionate, and I’ve gotten to know Rania well since the event,” Lewis says. “I keep telling people about this experience because it affirms that Iowa City is such a wonderful place to live.” 

Lachey says he’s grateful he was in the right place at the right time to help. 

“We always use the saying ‘Hawks helping Hawks,’” Lachey says. “I’ve gotten to feel the support of Hawkeye nation on Saturdays, but out in the community I’ve also found out just how nice everyone is and how willing they all are to help out.”