Officers in South Bay rebuild, replace wheelchair ramp for Sunnyvale fall victim

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety is quite literally building a better Bay Area.

During a recent call for a fall patient, officers noticed a weathered wheelchair ramp at the home was in need of some major repairs.

Kenneth Peterson told ABC7 News, he was working in his backyard on Monday, when he took a tumble. Peterson fell and Sunnyvale DPS was called in to assist.

"Suffered head injuries and a hand injury too," Peterson said, as he pointed to bruising on his head and hand.

Sunnyvale DPS officers responded and quickly realized their duties didn't stop after getting Peterson back on his feet.

"One of the paramedics actually stepped through the existing wheelchair ramp," Dominic Bitonti with Sunnyvale DPS said. "So we deemed it not very safe."

Peterson explained he suffered a stroke about 10 years ago, which limited his mobility. He worked as a carpenter for 40 years before retiring and said he also served in the Vietnam War.

Shortly after his stroke, Peterson had a colleague put in the original ramp to allow him access into the family's backyard.

When DPS arrived on Monday, officers knew the ramp needed to be replaced, or at the very least, repaired.

"They said, 'You going to patch the hole?' I said, 'Sure, as soon as my limbs get better and I could patch the hole,'" Peterson told ABC7 News.

To Peterson's surprise, he didn't need to reach for his old tool belt. A crew of eight with Sunnyvale DPS returned with plywood and power tools.

"Ken's wife kept saying, 'I didn't know you guys did this,'" Bitonti said. "It might not be in the job description, but however we can help, that's what we're here for."

The crew of officers had gone beyond the badge to build a better Bay Area. The department Tweeted a video of their ramp rebuild.

Sunnyvale DPS used its own material and spent about 45 minutes securing a new ramp. All of the work was done under Peterson's supervision, of course.

"Because of some carpentry history, he pointed to the right nails and the right screws to make sure we got it right," Bitonti said about Peterson.

Limited mobility hasn't stopped Peterson from working on projects in his backyard. He says now, thanks to Sunnyvale DPS, neither will a weathered ramp.

"They do fantastic work, and I'm very, very grateful," Peterson said through tears.

Bitonti said officers didn't rebuild and replace Peterson's ramp for recognition. Instead, he explained, "It's not why we do the job, and it's not why we did it. We did it because it was the right thing to do."
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