Officer, restaurant help mystery man stranded at train station

Posted at 7:49 PM, Dec 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-13 11:24:02-05

ETRRICK, Va. (WTVR) – A police officer and a neighborhood restaurant came to the aid of an elderly New York man stranded at a Chesterfield train station on a cold, wet night.

As the Amtrak train pulled out of the station in Ettrick Monday night, the older man who walked with the help of a cane was all alone when the station closed.

Chesterfield County Police Officer Ricky Cremonese told CBS 6 News senior reporter Wayne Covil that he spotted the man, who was a bit frightened because of several men who kept on walking past him.

As a result, the officer decided he would walk the stranger to the Jeff's Place, a local watering hole nearby.

As Cremonese and the man walked in, everyone was a bit startled. Many in the room thought the man looked like Santa Claus.

Donna Sheffield, who works at Jeff's Place, said the officer and the stranger were soaked when they both walked in.

Sheffield, who told the officer the man could certainly stay at the restaurant until his son arrived from Hampton, said that for about the next hour the stranger watched as the regulars played darts.

Then Sheffield said she witnessed something special: a reunion between the stranger and his grandson who had not seen each other in more than 12 years.

"The first thing he did was take both of his hands and touch his cheeks," she said. "And then he told him, 'you were only this big' and his hand down real low… and he was teared up and it… got to you a little bit."

While some folks in the community think Cremonese went beyond the call of duty, he said it was just all in a day's work.

"I know it sounds cliché, but it is our job," Cremonese said. " There's no way I could leave this gentleman… in the pouring rain.  Not only that, it was dark down here, he was scared and visibly upset."