Sanitation worker proves to be a lifesaver; wins Gr8 Acts of Kindness

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 11:04 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2022 at 11:31 PM CDT
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CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. (KAIT) - Macario Chism spends his days, loading large waste into the back of a truck in Caruthersville.

But, on one of the coldest days of the year, he heard an urgent plea as he started his shift behind the wheel.

“One of the volunteer firemen called me early that morning and said a Silver Alert had been issued,” Barry Gilmore, Caruthersville Code enforcement officer said.

That alert was for then 82-year-old Thelma Bates, who suffers from dementia.

“I was worried sick,” Marian Bates, Thelma Bates’ oldest daughter, said.

“The whole community came together,” Marian said.

“She didn’t have no shoes on,” Renee Bates said.

“It was very cold,” Chris Booker, Waste Pro USA, said. “Sixteen degrees that morning.”

Bates had been missing since 3 a.m.

“None of us really thought that this would end the way it did,” Gilmore said shaking his head.

Cario heard the news.

“He was at the store,” Renee said.

“The cashier was like, ‘Hey, there’s an older woman. She’s missing,’” Macario Chism, March’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner, said.

“He ran out of the store,” Renee said.

“It was probably 6:30 or 7 o’clock,” Macario said.

That’s when Macario, or “Cario” as his friends call him, saw something.

“The door had swung open in the wind and she lifted up,” Cario said. “I grabbed her in my arms. I was carrying her.”

Footage from inside the cab of the truck shows that moment.

He places Thelma Bates inside.

Covers her up and hits the horn, signaling to other nearby searchers that he had her and needed help.

Then, because she wasn’t wearing shoes, he covers her feet.

All the while, Cario was thinking of his own late grandmother.

“She died in my arms,” Cario said. “I couldn’t save her so I was just happy to save Mrs. Bates.”

“He told me several times that the felt that he just had to find this lady,” Chris Booker, Waste Pro USA, said.

Mrs. Bates was checked out at the hospital.

“Blood pressure was fine. Vital signs were fine,” Renee said. “There was nothing wrong with her.”

“This is about as close as a miracle that you can get,” Barry said.

Oh, but it gets even better... as we made a trip to Caruthersville for a special surprise.

“Is this Thelma? Oh, my goodness,” I said walking up to the Bates family. “Thank you so much for coming!”

The Bates’ family arrived and then Barry Gilmore called Cario and asked him to come to City Hall, where we were all waiting.

“Macario, this is a hero’s welcome that we have here for you today. A simple act of kindness made you a lifesaver, a hero and the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness. We have a special surprise for you!”

Thelma Bates begins walking toward Cario, assisted by one of her daughters.

Cario and Mrs. Bates embrace, then I could the cash prize from First Community Bank and KAIT into Cario’s hands.

“Congratulations, Cario!” Allen Williams, Community President of First Community Banks said. “We have this check here for you. We appreciate your caring spirit.”

“If it were not for Cario, we would be putting flowers on my mother’s grave today... if it wasn’t for Cario,” Renee said.

Do you know someone like Macario Chism?

Nominate them for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.

Go to our website: then click on “Gr8 Acts of Kindness” from right there on the home page.

Just fill out the form. It’s easy to do!

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