Zach Rotter

Zach Rotter helped drive a woman from Detroit to New York City so that she could attend her father's funeral.


Good Samaritan Steps Up

College of Wooster senior Zach Rotter helps woman attend funeral for her father

September 3, 2013 by John Finn

You just never know when or where you might encounter a Good Samaritan. For Jelena Ma, a mother of two, it occurred at Detroit Metropolitan Airport earlier this summer. A five-hour delay ultimately ended in the cancellation of her flight to New York City, where her father’s funeral was scheduled for the following morning.

Desperate to attend the service, but too tired to drive the 614 miles on her own, Ma approached several strangers, one of which was College of Wooster senior Zach Rotter, who was waiting in line to transfer his ticket to another flight.

It would have been easy to decline Ma’s request, but the good-hearted Rotter agreed to step out of line and jump into a car driven by one of Ma’s friends, who took them to her home in Ann Arbor. There, the four adults and two children would embark upon the 10-hour journey to New York City.

The adults took turns driving, and by 8:36 the following morning, they had arrived at Penn Station, where Ma and her children headed to Chinatown for the 9 a.m. funeral service.

Before departing, the unintended traveling party paused for a quick photo to commemorate the random adventure. "We took the picture as we were all getting out of the car," said Rotter, who will enter medical school at the University of Toledo next fall. "We shared that experience and couldn't believe we made it. It seems like it was straight out of a movie.”

But the story did not end there. Accounts of the odyssey were posted nationally on Good Morning, The Huffington Post,, and other media outlets across the country.

When asked if he would do it again, Rotter paused and said, “yes, I would.”