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Community, Friends’ Support Keep Injured Samaritan And Family Going

December 20, 1988

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ Pat Paquin says she’s been amazed by an outpouring of support since her husband was nearly electrocuted trying to help an accident victim. A neighbor plows her driveway and a merchant dropped off a Christmas tree.

″Somebody else brought us our wood, and people have been stacking our wood,″ she said. ″Every couple of days I’ll come home from the hospital and dinner will be on the doorstep.″

On Nov. 25, Ed Paquin ran into downed electrical wires while rushing to aid the driver of a truck that struck a utility pole in Shaftsbury, in southwest Vermont. As his family watched from their vehicle, 7,200 volts of electricity pulsed through Paquin’s body.

His sister, Alice, revived him and rescue crews delivered him to the Albany, N.Y., Medical Center partially paralyzed, with serious internal injuries and burns on his neck and knees.

Today, Paquin, 35, is in fair condition and recovering slowly at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont in Burlington. He receives burn treatment and therapy, and his 7-year-old daughter Catherine reads to him. The other day he reached a milestone - he moved his legs.

″I’m glad to be alive, but it’s really hard not to know how much and how long it’s going to take to recover,″ he said last week.

″I’m really lucky that people in my town and other people around, they just have been really good and supportive and everything,″ he said, tears in his eyes, when asked what keeps him going.

″It gives you some faith when you feel people have faith in you. And that’s the way people have been making me feel.″

Paquin is a self-employed carpenter and member of the Rescue Squad in his hometown of Fairfax, a small town 15 miles northeast of Burlington. One of his friends, Dan Stoddard of nearby Huntington, described him as full of fun and life.

″He’s a musician. He’s always the life of the party - he’d bring his banjo or guitar. The unfortunate part of the accident, he can’t move his hands at all. But that may just be a matter of therapy,″ Stoddard said.

Friends said it was just like him to rush to the aid of an accident victim.

″That’s why he was on the rescue squad in the first place,″ his wife said. ″We saw the accident, and ... I was just thinking, ‘We’re supposed to be someplace,’ and I remember him saying something about he didn’t see any rescue vehicles and he thought he could do something. It’s not something I could do.″

Ironically, the driver of the truck apparently picked his way through the live wires and left the scene moments before the Paquins drove by, according to police and witnesses.

Michael Hulbert of Bennington pleaded innocent Monday to charges of leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license. A court clerk said he was released on his own recognizance pending an appearance sometime next month.

Pat Paquin, a part-time, free-lance journalist, said the most difficult days were the ones right after the accident.

″It’s so hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t gone through it, the constant fear you’ll get a call from the hospital and something will be wrong,″ she said.

In the last week or so, after staying with relatives while her husband was in Albany, she returned home and was greeted by the generosity of neighbors and friends. One changed the tires on her car. The Fairfax Rescue Squad has begun a fund-raising campaign to help defray the couple’s expenses.

″He has survived something no one thought he should have survived. Everybody thinks it’s a miracle,″ she said.

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