RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Two good Samaritans are recovering from serious injuries after they stopped to help a driver change a flat tire and were then hit by a pickup truck.
Virginia State Police said the accident happened on June 30 around 4 p.m. on Interstate 95 near the Maury Street exit.
Christopher Wilson, 32, and David Gower, 36, both of Chesterfield, said they noticed a Honda Accord had a flat tire and decided to stop and help the driver, who they said was 19 years old.
However, before Wilson had finished screwing in the last lug nut, police said a 2006 Chevrolet Colorado ran off the right side of the highway and struck the Honda.
“If I hadn’t of been paying attention, I would be dead; we would be dead,” Gower said. “He actually had a chance to get away - a split second chance.”
In that split second, both Wilson and Gower suffered serious injuries from fractured vertebrae, broken hips, a broken femur and pelvis.
“I just remember getting up and praying to God,” Gower said. “I just said I want to see my kids one more time, ya know? One of those - win your prayer type of deals. I just didn’t know what to expect.”
“I was like, this is it,” Wilson said. “I’m getting ready to have twin girls any day now and I was like, I’m never going to get to see them grow up; I’m never going to get to meet them. It was hard, it’s still hard; I’m in a lot of pain, but I’m here.”
“He saw me go airborne and he went airborne; we both went airborne,” Gower added. “I smashed into the van and then went over the guardrail, went down, hit a tree – breaking my hip – and then rolled off into the bottom of the ravine.”
Both were hospitalized for four days undergoing surgery and physical therapy.
However, Wilson’s injuries have left him with limited mobility around the house - which is why Gower drove to Warsaw Thursday to find him a wheelchair.
“I’m over-elated because now I have a way to not have to put all that weight on my body,” Wilson said.
Despite the serious injuries, both Wilson and Gower said they would stop to help the teenager and other again. Both added the experience has made them more alert in vehicles.
“Even getting in the car it’s scary because you’re watching,” Gower said. “You’re watching people; you’re watching what they’re doing. I’m more attentive now.”
While there's still a long road to recovery and plenty of unknowns on how both families will cope following this crash, the two good Samaritans said another good Samaritan pulled over and stayed there until first responders arrived.
“She physically wiped the sweat from my face with her shirt; she’s amazing,” Wilson said. “I hope to see her again and able to give her a hug and thank her for everything.”
The families have created a GoFundMe to help pay for future expenses from the crash.
At this time, Wilson said it’s unknown how long he may be out of work.
“I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring as far as this situation goes,” Wilson said. “I just imagine how worse it could have been.”
Police said the driver of the Honda was on the other side of the guardrail at the time of the crash and was not injured.
The driver of the Chevrolet, Jerry A. Thaniel, 58, of Richmond, was taken to the hospital along with Wilson and Gower for serious injuries.
Thaniel faces a charge of reckless driving and police said fatigue was a factor in the crash.
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