Man in wheelchair, Good Samaritan killed

February 18, 2008 3:49:26 PM PST
A Good Samaritan and the man he was trying to help died along the Expressway overnight. It happened on the Vine Street Expressway eastbound near the Broad Street exit. 55-year-old Joseph Kelly Sr. of Levittown tried to help a homeless man in a wheel chair.

By all accounts, Joseph Kelly was the kind of guy who would reach out to help anyone in trouble. He was apparently doing just that early Monday morning, and it cost him his life.

Joseph's son, Steve Kelly told Action News, "That's just the way. He'd get out of his car and do anything for anyone. And if you called him in the middle of the night he'd be right there for you."

It was just before 2 a.m. when Joe Kelly stopped his van on the Vine Street Expressway to help a homeless man in a wheelchair. As Joe tried to get the man to safety, a pickup truck slammed into them killing them both instantly. Joe leaves behind two sons, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

Neighbors and everyone who knew him say the same thing.

"Anytime that somebody needed him, if he saw that you needed help, he was there for you," says neighbor Wykina Rosemond.

Joe Kelly was on assignment for a maritime services company when he stopped to help the homeless man. John McGarry of Pottstown, Pennsylvania is the dispatcher who sent him on the job, but is also a long time friend.

McGarry says of Joe, "He was that kind. He was just that kind of guy. He was just someone you could depend on. It's really a sad thing... it really is."

The homeless man was well known in Center City. He had a habit of riding his chair in traffic and police were frequently called to escort him off the Vine Street Expressway.

Friends at the shelter where he stayed say he left just before 2 Monday morning bound for Hahnemann Hospital which is just off the Expressway. They often worried about his habit of riding in traffic lanes.

But no one, not even the police, could stop him from doing it. Now, he and a man who cared enough to stop and help a stranger are dead. The police haven't decided yet whether or not the driver of the pickup truck will face any charges.