FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 22, 2015
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Lynne Hanner, Director, Institutional Advancement
An Alabama Industries for the Blind employee was abducted, beaten and robbed Tuesday morning as he walked from his apartment to a bus stop in route to work.
Legally blind, Matthew Fontanez was attacked by two white males with goatees and tattoos driving a red Dodge pick-up truck, who after beating and robbing him, left him in the woods near Germany Mountain Road. Matthew was able to make it back to the Birney Station road area where a passing motorist, John Samford, saw him and stopped to help. Mr. Samford called emergency personnel and stayed with him until police and paramedics arrived.
The Talladega Police Department acted quickly to issue a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) for the truck and the two men and on Tuesday apprehended two suspects in the incident.
Mr. Samford said he was on his way to work in Talladega when he spotted the young man walking up out of a ditch on a dirt road. “He was bleeding and waving frantically so I stopped to help,” said Mr. Samford, who serves in the Army National Guard. “I had water and a first aid kit in my truck so I did what I could for Matthew until police arrived.” Samford later went by the hospital to check on him.
Matthew is a graduate of Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind’s Alabama School for the Blind and Gentry Technical Facility.
“We are so relieved that Matthew is okay physically, but this was, of course, an emotional and frightening experience for him,” said AIDB President Dr. John Mascia. “I commend the Talladega Police Department for their excellent response and quick work in apprehending the suspects in this case.”
“I especially want to express appreciation to Mr. Samford for stopping to assist our blind employee during such difficult circumstances. Our world can be dangerous and stopping to help strangers along the road who are in trouble can be risky. I understand that Mr. Samford also went by the hospital later to follow up on how things were going. Again, we are grateful that this incident turned out okay and hope that justice is served for the individuals who tried to harm a legally blind man who was simply on his way to work to earn a living for himself.”