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Two years ago, Thomas Weller, San Diego's "Highwayman," decided not to get behind the wheel at night because he was worried he'd pose a danger on the road. Weller, who has spent the past 40 years driving his 1955 Ford wagon searching San Diego's highways for stranded motorists in need of gas or a spare tire has been waking up with a blur in his left eye.

The condition in Weller's eye has worsened. Weller is now stuck at his ranch in El Cajon when he could be out putting out car fires, changing flat tires, or putting gas in motorists' empty tanks.

This June, Weller went to an ophthalmologist to get his eye checked out, and the doctor diagnosed him with a cataract. Uninsured, the surgery to replace the damaged lens with a synthetic, crystalline lens, says Weller, will cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

Weller has two options: he can save money for the surgery so he can go back out and "play," as he likes to call it, or forego the surgery and use his money to gas up the Ford wagon — which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Ghostbusters' "Ecto-1" rig — and go back out on the road with limited visibility.

"When it was raining the other day, I usually love to go out because that's when people need my help the most. But because of the blurriness and the rain, I don't want to cause a problem...for others or myself. It was very gloomy over here."

There's defeat in Weller's voice. The loud, hearty, country-boy chuckles are rare and don't last long. The 62-year-old retired car mechanic is open about his melancholy.

"You see, I do this routinely, but I also do it to raise my spirits when I'm depressed," says Weller in a deep, southern drawl. "When I help one person, I'm no longer depressed."

Weller likes to share his stories. "I had a car fire on the westbound 8 and 163 north last week. I put the fire out...it was an air-conditioning fire. I saved the folks car for them," says Weller. "Just telling you [that has] raised my spirits."

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Comments

Founder Oct. 3, 2010 @ 6:33 p.m.

Thomas Weller, San Diego's "Highwayman" is yet another San Diego HERO that is doing his thing without City insurance or HUGE pension!

If this same function was provided by Caltrans, the City of SDPD, the State of CA's Highway Patrol or all three, then this HERO would not only have insurance but a HUGE pension to look forward to, and there would be at least 6 positions to cover this one HERO's "job"...

This story ID's the disconnect between REAL San Diegans and our over paid (in these tough times) public "Servants", Oh sorry, that was before they started calling themselves "HERO's"...

The Insurance Companies should all chip in to pay his eye bills so he can single handedly save them some more money and also continue his HERO role for all of San Diego's stranded vehicles!

Anyone know any eye surgeons? This is a chance for one of them to step forward and be a HERO themselves!

p.s. Kudos Dorian for another "REAL SD HERO" story!

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 3, 2010 @ 8:45 p.m.

Someone needs to step up for this man.....I would if I had the $$$, he deserves it.

He is a true hero....

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Founder Oct. 4, 2010 @ 8:48 a.m.

Reply #3

Right ON SP, perhaps Dorian can post a link about where to send donations and perhaps the Reader will also include that, in it's Printed Reader...

For years, he has been looking out for San Diego's motorists, now they need to look out for him!

If UCSD, KAISER, Grossmont and Mercy cannot get together and make this happen ASAP then they all will lose every bit of my respect as "Caring" Institutions. Each year we are asked to donate to and or volunteer our time for these "Not for Profit" Institutions, while their Administrators and Physicians receive HUGE Salaries + BONUSES. (That would also make a great Story)...

If there is not one Eye Specialist or Institution in SD that will not help Thomas Weller, then we all need to rethink our current Health Care System and also the amount our "Caring Doctors" receive for providing that care to US...

Another lower cost option is to find out where they perform this procedure at the lowest cost and then get everyone to chip in to buy Thomas Weller a ticket there; as an example, for the cost of getting an dental implant here in SD, you could fly to Thailand, stay for a month (and have a vacation) for the same price...

Bottom Line: SD needs Thomas Weller "On The Road Again"...

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Dorian Hargrove Oct. 4, 2010 @ 8:54 a.m.

Sorry, gang but I've been out sick for the past few days and haven't checked the comments. Visit Weller's website for more info.

Here's his address if you'd like to send help:

Goose Creek Ranch 504 Macon St El Cajon, Ca. 92019 snowtraction@yahoo.com

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Founder Oct. 4, 2010 @ 9:04 a.m.

Reply #4 Thanks Dorian, feel better fast! +

Please post Thomas Weller's website and or a link as it is not mentioned above.

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antigeekess Oct. 6, 2010 @ 2:26 p.m.

Hmmm...okay, I just sent out an email to one of the professional eye doctor associations in California to see if it will find its way to someone who'll help. Everybody, get to Googlin' & see if we can't scare up some help.

Of course, outsourcing his surgery is an "eyedea" as well, Founder. I wonder what the quality of care would be like over the border? I love my dentist over there.

This organization & group of doctors looks like a possibility: http://www.fundacioncodet.org/funcodet/ing/doctors.htm

Just start shakin' those trees, guys...

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nan shartel Oct. 7, 2010 @ 12:43 p.m.

the odd thing about this is that Ophthalmologists from San Diego fly down to Mexico and do this for free

i would say get in touch with The Lions Club their charity is helping people with eye problems for free

one chapter near Tom is at 195 E Douglas El Cajon, Ca, 92020

they r a wonderful organization and would be a resource to either help or guide Tom to help

let us know what happens Dorian

and don't wait 2 long or even with surgery much of his sight will be lost

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Shotgun Shela Feb. 21, 2011 @ 11:38 p.m.

Wellnow, I kin SEE agin!! PERFECTLY!highly, Highly recommend Dr. Sanford Feldman of One To One Lasik! SO thankfull to ALL those who had a hand in this comin about!

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jan/07/good-samaritan-gets-payback-for-paying-it-forward/#

ALSO, my SAR rig is "On The Road Agin" thanks to these folks as well -- http://www.kusi.com/category/195821/turko-files [ see "Back in Gear" video ] http://www.kusi.com/story/13960847/back-in-gear

doin what I do best -- http://snowchains.tripod.com/sandiegohighwaymansweblogonlinediary/

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Dorian Hargrove Feb. 22, 2011 @ 10:35 a.m.

That's great news, Thomas! I hope to see you out on the road...kind of!

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Shotgun Shela Feb. 22, 2011 @ 2:33 p.m.

chuckle< YUP :) wave as yer passin ;) GOOD onya Dorian

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