ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Douglas Stansell's story is impacting those who never even met him.
The 56-year-old good Samaritan was on his way to pick up his daughter from work when he swerved to avoid 15-year-old Eli Jones, who was lying in the middle of the street. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office said Jones was hit by a car in the 8400 block of Clough Pike at around 1 a.m. Monday.
Stansell immediately stopped to call 911 when he spotted Jones. The Anderson Township student was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
Hours after Stansell tried to save Jones, he suffered a heart attack and died.
His family set up a GoFundMe page for funeral expenses, receiving messages from people near and far touched by his efforts.
"I did not know this gentleman, but felt deeply compelled to donate," one donor said. "What an exemplary father and human being he was. May his memory always be a blessing, from One Doug to Another. RIP Hero."
Kindness through action were the words Stansell lived by, according to his friend Owen 'T.J.' Bell.
"I really don't know what to say, man," Bell said. "Sorry, I can't keep myself together, but yeah, he was a really good guy."
Bell said Stansell opened his family's home to him at a time not many were willing to help him.
"I was down on my luck and was having some problems, and I ended up with nowhere to stay, so Doug opened his family doors for me to have a place to stay, and I stayed with them for a good period of time," said Bell. "I appreciated that he did that, and I knew that he was the type of man that would need my help, so I was there to offer him my help while he offered me a place to stay."
Stansell's kindness and selflessness rubbed off on him, and it's something he never forgot. For Bell, Stansell redefined giving back and serving others — even if you think you don't have anything to give.
"It may not show in your wallet, but it can show in your heart you know you can help someone out with the kindness, and it can go a long way," Bell said.
Early Monday morning, Stansell pulled over at Clough Pike and 8 Mile Road in Anderson Township to try and save Jones. Hours later, Stansell suffered a heart attack and died. His family tells WCPO the stress and trauma of what he witnessed that morning proved to be too much for him.
As Bell gets ready to say his final goodbyes to the man who picked him up when he was down, he's urging others to remember Stansell by returning the favor.
"He was a man worth helping I can tell you that much, and he made an impact on some of the things that he had told me to make me want to be a better person, that to heart you know," said Bell.
Authorities are still looking for the hit-and-run driver who killed Jones. Police think the driver was in a dark Honda Civic, with damage to the front right wheel well liner.
This article was written by Bret Buganski for WCPO.