Dane Ray Cummings has driven the same garbage route for 8 years in Butte County, California.

In that time, Cummings has come to know and become friendly with many of the individuals along his route, especially the senior citizens.

Which is why, when Cummings discovered that the town of Magalia was in the direct path of the California wildfires, he felt a personal duty to check up on his elderly customers and make sure that they were all safe.

And for one elderly woman, Cummings’s heroic actions meant the difference between life or death.

A Heroic Act

When news broke that Cummings’s route was right in the line of fire, he was urged to leave town and get to safety by not only his boss, but by city officials as well.

But Cummings had another plan in mind. Rather than being concerned with his own safety, he was worried about the elderly folks that may be in danger and unable to evacuate to safety.

Cummings explained to the local news station what he did that day, saying, “I probably went to 45 or 50 people to see if I could help them, (and) make sure they were getting out.”

While most of the people that Cummings went to check on had already evacuated or were in the process, Margaret Newsum, 93, was all alone with no one to help her when she learned of the impending fires.

Newsum had been recovering from a broken back and depending on the help of caregivers to help her with day to day survival, but with the wildfires approaching, her caregiver had already evacuated, leaving Newsum to fend for herself.

Luckily, just as Newsum stepped out on her front porch to look for help, Cummings was pulling up to her street, the last stop on his heroic journey to check on his customers.

When Cummings learned that Newsum’s caregiver had already left town, he insisted on bringing her to safety himself, and with the help of a few kind neighbors, Newsum was hoisted into the garbage truck and began the 5-hour trek to safety with her heroic garbageman.

As it turns out, the Newsum had lived a pretty incredible life and used the long drive to share her experiences and life stories with Cummings, telling him about seeing the attack on Pearl Harbor, singing backup for Frank Sinatra, and hang gliding when she was seventy.

By the end of the trip, Cummings was quite taken with Newsum, saying, “I wish I’d known her when she was younger. I would’ve married her.”

Thanks to Cummings’s heroic actions, Newsum will live to share her stories with others, now able to add a story about the time that her local garbageman saved her life.

Learn more about this inspiring story in the video below!


What is the most heroic thing that you have ever done or that someone has done for you? What do you think about Cummings’s choice to stay behind and help his customers? Share your thoughts and join the conversation below!

Let's Have a Conversation!