Humble hero describes saving rollover crash victim

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 10:50pm

Chris Pilie says a quick moment of reflection caused him to stop at a crash site, greatly benefiting the woman whose car landed upside-down in a ditch.

Pilie arrived early to work Monday morning, so he decided to make the short drive back home to get his laptop. He was driving on LA 73, just north of LA 621, when he saw the car on the side of the road.

"My first thoughts were, 'well, somebody will be here in a moment to take care of it,'" Pilie said.

Many people could see an accident on the side of the road, keep driving, and not give it a second thought. But Pilie's second thought was what made him turn around.

"Then I thought about my family," he said, turning to look at his son. "And I thought about the fact that there possibly could be somebody in that car, and it may have just happened."

When he got back to the crash site, he saw three other men with the same idea. They went into the ditch to the car and tried talking to the woman, but she was unresponsive. They saw water inside, so they smashed the window, cut her seat belt, and pulled her out. They helped her across the street to their parked vehicles and sat with her until officials arrived.

"She was very confused and in a daze," Pilie said. "It was 40 degrees outside at that time and she was soaking wet."

EMS and state troopers arrived a couple minutes later and took the woman to the hospital. The state police says the woman suffered only minor injuries in the crash. And she will be okay in large part because of the actions of Pilie and the others who came to her aid. But he does not think what he did was very special.

"I was the first responder, and that's kinda that way I looked at it, was that was my time to make sure that I contributed and made sure that somebody was okay," Pilie said. "EMS guys, firemen, police officers, they do this every single day, and I just happened to do this one day in my entire life."

At that hour, during the morning commute, there is usually traffic on LA 73. Pilie does not know how long the woman had been in the ditch, but he doubts he was the first person to see her.

"Somebody saw (the crash). Maybe many people saw it. And maybe not, I don't know, but if that's the case, it's kind of upsetting to think that somebody may not have stopped," Pilie said.

Pilie told NBC33 he appreciates the congratulations from friends and family for his actions, but he believes lots of people would react the way he did.

"Obviously, there's some people that may be afraid," Pilie said. "I was afraid at first, because I don't know how to handle... I'm not a paramedic, I don't know what to do. I'm afraid, if I move somebody, it could hurt them."

Pilie says he would welcome a chance to meet with the woman and the three other men who pulled her to safety. He did not know the woman's name. He said Bryan Manuel was one of the other good Samaritans, but knew the other two only as Curt and William.

Pilie said Manuel also had a unique reason for being in that spot at that moment.

"Believe it or not, he was actually on his way work," Pilie said, "and decided before he was going to go to work, he was gonna go to church and say a prayer. And I believe he even took a detour to do that."

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