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As I write up car accident news, I am constantly reminded that most people are good. Some are even selfless. It’s heartwarming to see all the stories of police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs putting themselves in harms way to help others. But there’s something special about a group of strangers coming together to save someone in danger.

WhoKadir Tolla, Tessa Sand, and numerous other good samaritans
WhereI-94 in Saint Paul, Minnesota
WhatRescued 74-year-old Sam Orbovich who was trapped in his car after a fiery crash

Sam Orbovich was driving his Honda crossover along Interstate 94 in Saint Paul, Minnesota when he “struck a light pole and then a guard rail,” according to state police. The crash trapped him inside his car. And then the Honda lit on fire.

Kadir Tolla slammed on her brakes. “All I see is there is a man in the car that can’t get out and needs our help.”

Tessa Sand is a 24-year-old registered nurse who also stopped. But freeing the driver proved a challenge. “It was trying to figure out, one, how to get him out of the car, so trying to break the guardrail down, pulling the car, trying to see if we could get him out on the passenger side, which was also engulfed in flames.” 

Soon a crowd gathered. But by then, the car had burst into a fireball. Sand recalled, “I was scared, like shaking, scared. The car just totally went up in flames…You could feel how hot it was. The smell of the smoke just wafting in the air.”

EMT in an orange and blue uniform stands outside the open doors of his ambulance
EMT | Michel E via Unsplash

When all seemed lost, a highway response team arrived. The professionals smashed the driver side window of the Honda. Then the bystanders worked together to pull Orbovich out of the window so Sand could administer aid. She said, “You could see the fear and the panic in his eyes.”

This story has a happy ending: Orbovich was taken to the hospital. He not only survived, but had only minor injuries.

“It’s 100% a miracle,” Sand said. “If strangers had not come together to form this community to get this man out of the car, I don’t think he would still be here today.”

Next, read about the 18-year-old girl who sacrificed herself to save a wheelchair-bound woman trapped on train tracks, or see the good samaritans save Orbovich yourself in the video below: