James doesn’t have a car, or money for a cab or bus. But he does have two feet.
So to make his scheduled appearance in traffic court in Lilburn, Ga., Tuesday morning, he did what he had to do, local media report. In 6 degree weather with a wind chill of 10 below, James walked. For nearly 30 miles.
The man, who gave only his first name, told WSB-TV he left a shelter in downtown Atlanta at 1 a.m. to arrive in time, then walked more than eight hours in the freezing cold, fearing a warrant would be issued for his arrest if he failed to appear. His public defender, meanwhile, didn’t even show up.
After paying the $50 fine he owed, James bundled up for a frigid return journey when he was approached by Lilburn Police Officer Andy Blimline. The cops at the courthouse couldn’t bear to kick him into the cold, Blimline said, so they pooled their money to pay for James’ return via cab — a cost of $80.
“I didn’t want him walking another eight hours,” Blimline told The Gwinnett Daily Post. “He was reluctant but he accepted the offer, and he was very, very happy.”
Blimline’s actions call to mind a similar incident in November 2012, when NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo shelled out $75 to buy a man insulated boots on a cold New York City night.
“I knew I had to help him,” DePrimo later told CNN of the incident. “He smiled from ear to ear … It was like you gave him a million dollars.”