A heartbreaking accident leaves this local man all alone in the world

William Crossman III stood in the hallway outside a hospital room at Geisinger Community Medical Center.

He paused there for a minute trying to gather himself before walking through that doorway and into an entirely new world.

“I’ll tell you what, I was scared,” he said, a tear in his eye and a slight tremor in his voice. “I’m not really afraid of anything, but I was scared to go in that room.”

It took all his willpower, but Bill did finally summon the courage to cross over that threshold. Once inside, it took him another minute or so to process what he saw.

There, lying quiet and still, was Bill’s beloved mom Josephine. She had died just hours before he arrived, succumbing to injuries she’d suffered in a tragic car accident.

Bill walked unsteadily to her bedside and sat down.

The nurse he’d talked to on the phone assured him that she'd gone quickly and peacefully. Somehow, that wasn’t much of a comfort at the moment.

Bowing his head, Bill reached out and took her hand in his. “What do I do now, Mom?” he whispered. “What do I do now?”

Tightly Knit

Anyone who’s lived in Honesdale for the past 10 years knows the Crossman Family.

Bill and his parents came to town a decade ago and quickly blended right into the community. The trio was a familiar sight, walking together around town, especially on Main Street.

Josephine suffered from arthritis and a severe case of osteoporosis which made it nearly impossible for her to stand up straight.

Amazingly, that never slowed her down though.

“My Mom was a very independent woman,” Bill said with a smile. “If she needed to do something or get somewhere, she always figured out a way.”

We were sitting at the kitchen table Thursday afternoon. Bill had graciously invited me in to tell me all about his mom, her life and the terrible accident that haunts his piercing blue-grey eyes.

Josephine loved nature, so it’s no surprise that the porch of their small apartment is wreathed in flowers and birdhouses.

“She was the best mom anyone could ask for,” he said. “She would do anything for me. I used to tell her that I could cook for myself, but she never let me. She said taking care of me made her happy.”

Josephine was originally from Throop. Her parents immigrated from Czechoslovakia and she was raised in a devoutly Catholic household.

Bill’s grandfather worked in the coal mines, sacrificing his own health so that his family could have a better life.

Josephine pitched in as well, going to work in a textile factory after school. Bill’s father was raised on a farm in Sterling, so he knew the value of hard work too.

“He worked from the time he was kid,” Bill said. “Those were different times. It was a different world...”

Nightmare

For Bill and Josephine, Monday had been just another ordinary day until the unthinkable happened.

They’d just finished up eating dinner at Elegante and were walking home.

Ernie & Joe’s restaurant was their favorite ... a place they visited frequently, having made friends with the owners and waitstaff.

The pair negotiated Main Street without incident and were headed down Eighth Street, almost within sight of home.

Because of her medical issues, Josephine had to get around with the help of a “rollator,” which is basically a walker with wheels. But, it never slowed her down.

“Mom had a lot of energy,” Bill said. “She would walk faster than me sometimes.”

On this particular evening, though, she was content to stroll side-by-side with her son, his hand placed firmly on one of the handlebars to steady her.

They were almost home when tragedy struck: Josephine was hit by a car.

“It was terrible,” Bill said staring out the kitchen window at the flowers beyond. “She flew 10 or 12 feet in the air and landed on the pavement.”

Bill rushed to his Mom’s side, joined almost immediately by Good Samaritans hoping to help in any way they could.

Josephine was conscious. She clutched her son’s hand and asked what happened.

Bill isn’t sure she understood when he explained that she’d been hit by a car.

By this time first responders and police were on the scene. Josephine was quickly loaded into an ambulance and rushed to Wayne Memorial, Bill still at her side.

It didn’t take long for ER staff to realize their patient needed highly specialized care. So, a helicopter was dispatched to fly Josephine to Scranton.

Sadly, Bill wasn’t allowed to accompany her in the air. He was still holding her hand as they loaded her up.

“Please don’t go yet,” he whispered. “I still need you.”

Time of Need

Josephine was a remarkable woman. Sitting there in the Crossman’s kitchen Thursday afternoon, it was easy to understand Bill’s devotion to her.

She endured more hardships over the years than most of us will see in a lifetime ... and yet she rarely complained.

She enjoyed simple pleasures. She loved being a wife and a mother while also nurturing a deep faith in God. In fact, one of her favorite pastimes was walking down to St. Mary’s to say a Rosary.

A beautiful old crucifix is the focal point of the Crossman kitchen. It belonged to Bill's grandfather who used to stand before it every Sunday and recite his prayers in Slovak.

“She was a wonderful woman,” Bill said, looking up at that rugged old cross.

“My Mom was kind and pleasant to everyone. She tried to see the good in people. And she was always looking ahead, not back.”

Reaching Out

I have to be honest: I really wish I had gotten to know Josephine better.

Oh sure, we’ve exchanged hellos many times over the years, but nothing more substantial.

While that opportunity has been lost forever, at least I’ve now had the chance to introduce you, dear readers, to Crossman Family.

Bill lost his Dad to cancer two years ago and now his Mom is gone too. He’s 59-years-old and alone in the world for the first time.

Bill has health issues of his own which have kept him sidelined lately. He worked cutting and delivering firewood last winter, but anything that physically demanding is probably out of the question at the moment.

He’s currently looking for a job within walking distance. For now, he stays inside the apartment keeping things tidy, watching TV and wrestling with heartbreak.

“I keep it on all the time,” he said, nodding toward the big old set. “Even at night.

“I have a hard time sleeping. Every time I close my eyes, I see the whole thing over and over again. It’s the last thing I think about when I fall asleep and the first thing I think about when I wake up.

“They say it will get easier with time. I don’t know. It’s only been about a week, but it feels like forever...”

 

***Editor’s Note: If you’d like to help Bill Crossman during this difficult time, please consider making a donation the Go FundMe page set up by a friend of the family by clicking the following link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/1qntcixxqo?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

You can also drop off food items at Elegante, located at 851 Main Street,