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After a serious car accident, a man pulled over — and continued to help for days

Apryle Oswald.
Apryle Oswald
Apryle Oswald.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series from the Hidden Brain team. It features stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

In 1997, Apryle Oswald was on a road trip with her boyfriend and two dogs, driving through a wide-open stretch of Nevada. Suddenly, one of the dogs tried to jump in the front seat. Oswald swerved and lost control of the car.

"I can picture it very, very clearly," she remembered. "The car did a somersault, back-over-front, for nearly a hundred yards."

Once it stopped, she unfastened her seatbelt and got out of the car, yelling for her boyfriend, John Williams, who had disappeared.

"All of a sudden I see him come running towards me, and then I collapse," she said. She learned later she had bruised lungs and splintered ribs. "And I remember laying on the ground, and I just couldn't get up ... I remember being cold — really, really cold."

At that point it was around midnight, with below-freezing temperatures. One of their dogs was badly injured, and needed attention. Williams tried to flag down the cars driving by, but no one slowed down. They started to panic.

"I ... remember him coming back and saying, 'Nobody's stopping, nobody's stopping,'" she said.

Williams eventually took off his coat and threw it at a truck coming by. "He got the guy to stop," Oswald said. "And that guy's ... the unsung hero."

Oswald doesn't recall his name, or what he looked like. But she remembers his deep voice, and how he wrapped her in a blanket.

"I recall in my mind ... this scratchy wool plaid blanket, and covering me up to make sure I was warm," she said.

Luckily the man had an emergency radio in his truck, so he called for help. An air medical helicopter arrived and evacuated Oswald to the hospital.

If her unsung hero had left after that, it would have been enough. She believes that if not for him, she might have died of hypothermia. But his generosity didn't end there.

For the next three nights, the man drove Williams back and forth between his motel and the hospital, so Williams could visit her. He even drove their injured dog, Digby, to the veterinary clinic for blood transfusions.

"He just really cared," she said. "And he just went above and beyond."

She wishes she had gotten his phone number, to thank him again for saving her life — and for sticking around to help.

"I mean, who does that?" she said. "What an amazing person ... what an amazing thing for a stranger to do in the middle of a cold Nevada night."

After that, Oswald never saw the man again. But now, whenever she sees a person having car troubles, or who looks cold or hungry, she always stops. It's her way of paying the favor forward.

"If I go by somebody that needs help, I always think, 'Is there something I can do?'" Oswald said. "I feel compelled to help when I can."

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Laura Kwerel
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Ryan Katz