NEW YORK – A newcomer to the city became hopelessly lost for five days after going for a walk. Damon Mootoo was staying at his brother’s house in South Jamaica, Queens, when he decided to go for the stroll last Wednesday, 12 hours after arriving in New York for the first time, the Daily News reported Monday.
The 32-year-old man quickly got disorientated by the confusing streets of Queens.
On Sunday night, after a good Samaritan came to his aid, he was recovering at Jamaica Hospital from dehydration and frostbite.
Mootoo, who is hard of hearing but can communicate in English, said he didn’t ask for directions because he was afraid he’d be deported and because he had heard many scary stories about New York. He recently had received his permanent resident card.
The Samaritan, Michael Bharath, was walking home from church when he spotted Mootoo shivering on the street. After he and his wife made him a sandwich, Mootoo opened up and told them his story.
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Luckily, Mootoo found a piece of paper with his stepmother’s address in his pocket, and Bharath drove him there.
“When I see people in need, I try to help them,” Bharath told the News. “He was in need, and I’m pretty sure that within a couple more hours he would have been a dead man.”
Mootoo had begged for water, but was too ashamed and shy to ask for food or directions, his worried brother, Roger Miller, told the News. He slept in an abandoned car or sought shelter under a piece of wood in a stranger’s yard. Temperatures dropped into the low 20s on some nights.
“When we saw him, he was just crying,” said Miller, who had plastered flyers with Mootoo’s photo all over South Jamaica.
“He said he was trying to find his way back,” Miller said. “He said he was just walking all over. He was scared. He heard all the stories about New York.”
“I want to go home,” Mootoo told the paper. “I’m thinking about going back to Guyana.”
Our fast pace and bizarre world in stark evidence; confusing, convoluted, overbuilt, in a hurry, indifferent, frightening and dangerous. What an indictment against ‘civilization’.