One day in early November, Los Altos resident Philip Hordiner was crossing Edith Avenue into downtown when he saw an elderly couple on the ground in the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank at 100 Main St.
Apparently, the man and woman had just suffered injuries after attempting to negotiate one of three sets of short steps leading from the bank parking lot to the city’s Fourth Street parking plaza.
“The man was bleeding from his arm and he had hit his head,” said Hordiner, 85, a retired dentist.
The way Hordiner heard the story, the woman tripped on the steps and the man tried to break her fall, only to tumble himself.
Hordiner said emergency personnel “came quickly” and attended to the couple’s injuries. In the meantime, Hordiner went into the bank to inform the manager about the incident.
“They couldn’t move,” he said of the couple. “There were no railings on any of those staircases. There was nothing to hold onto.”
He suggested that railings be installed at the steps.
“The manager said he didn’t know whether it was his problem or the city’s,” Hordiner said.
The Parc Regent resident would not let the matter go. A few days later, he checked back with the bank and when the manager told him that he had not heard back from the city, Hordiner went to city hall himself to relay the story to city officials.
“I kind of pushed them,” he said.
Assistant City Manager J Logan said she met with bank manger Homaso Atako Nov. 7, a few days after the incident. Shortly after that meeting, rails were installed at each of the three staircases. In addition, the edge of each step was painted with a yellow caution stripe.
“We investigated the situation immediately and determined that the steps are within Wells Fargo’s private property,” Public Works Director Susanna Chan said. “We approached them, they accepted responsibility and made the improvements pretty promptly.”
Atako said he initiated the improvements as soon as he received confirmation that the steps were under the bank’s jurisdiction.
“Anything for the clients,” he said. “We want our clients to be safe.”
Hordiner was pleased with the quick action.
“I felt good about it,” he said. “I don’t want to see anything like that again. … I think it’s very important that we see ourselves as a community and we help each other out.”
His willingness to help strangers in need was inspired by a story of regret.
He recalled an incident years ago when he witnessed an accident on the side of the road but chose to drive by rather than stop.
“My wife was upset about it,” he said.
The next time Hordiner came across an accident scene, years later, he stopped and helped out, pulling an unconscious driver from a vehicle.
Lisa MacDonald, who heard about the couple’s falls during a chance meeting with Hordiner downtown, said she was touched by his random act of kindness.
“It gives me hope,” she said. “We need more positive (experiences) happening – people coming together and helping each other out.”