Extraordinary response to an every day crisis: Woman rescued from overturned vehicle

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 11:20am

Car crashes happen every day. We drive past them and wonder what happened, hope no one is harmed too badly, then go about our business.

“Police, firemen and paramedics are the heroes every single day. But sometimes they don’t get there in time. It’s our civic duty to stop and help until they get there,” Chris Pilie, a Prairieville resident, said.

On Monday, Jan. 7, Pilie arrived to work early. After realizing he forgot his laptop at home, he decided to take the short drive to pick it up. Little did he know how quickly his day was about to change.

“I was driving north on Highway 73 toward Airline Highway when I saw a couple cars slowing down,” Pilie recalled. “I looked to the right and there was a ditch. As I got closer I realized there was a car in it and it was upside down.”

Pilie continued driving but decided to turn around after the thought of his family popped into his mind.

“The first thing I thought of was my son. What if that was my family,” he said. “The car was upside down with the lights still on. When an accident like that happens, cars are turned off, but the lights were on. Also, no one was standing around on the side of the road. That made me think that this accident had just happened.”

Pilie decided to turn his vehicle around to make sure the driver was safe. He quickly learned he made the right decision.

“When I got down to look through the door, all I could see of the woman was her hair in the water,” he said. “At this point she was panicking. Her side of the car was basically submerged in water.”

Three additional men also stopped to render aid and it required all of them to pull the woman to safety.

“Two of the guys were lying down on their bellies near the car talking to the girl when I got there,” he said. “At that point you just start working on instincts. We broke a window and then one man had a pocket knife that we used to cut her out of the seatbelt.”

The ditch was not a deep one, but it was full of water that washed through the vehicle.

“She was soaking wet from head to toe when we pulled her out,” Pilie said. “It was 40 degrees outside that morning and she was only wearing scrubs.”

Emergency responders arrived shortly after they managed to pull her from the wreckage.

“One guy tried to talk to her but she couldn’t say her own name,” he said. “She was very dazed.”

Thankfully the State Police report that the woman only sustained minor injuries, although she was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Officials could not say exactly how the crash was caused, however, they did say no other vehicles are believed to have been involved and the woman was not issued any citation.

“My first reaction to what happened was that we need to learn from this,” Pilie added. “If you’re driving by an accident, don’t just assume everything’s going to be okay. The morale of the story is so important; sometime’s people need our help.”


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