Thanks to a hero good Samaritan, Rhonda Till lived to tell her amazing story.
story by Rhonda Till & Kayla Fouts
Every year drunk drivers kill more than 10,000 people in the US. Rhonda Till was lucky to survive when she was hit by a drunk driver. Here is her amazing tale told by her and the good Samaritan who helped save her life...
October 2, 2014
My day started out as any other day. My plans were to head to the coast from my Kernersville home. It was a beautiful day and I decided to alter my normal travel route and head west on I-40 so I could stop and do some shopping along the way.
After a few hours of shopping I got back on the road. I wanted to avoid heavy traffic in Wilmington and get to my destination before dark. Around 4:30 I exited off 140 onto 421 and the last thing I remember is passing by Eagle Island Produce stand. Seconds later I had an unfortunate encounter with a drunk driver…
I have no recollection of the crash. There is about an hour of my life that is wiped from my memory and that is blessing. I assumed I had lost consciousness. The first thing I remember is a man’s voice saying, “My name is Brett. I want you to remember that. What’s my name?”. I repeated his name and he said, “Very good”. I glanced around and wondered what in the world had happened. I couldn’t move. The driver’s seat was smooshed up against the console and I was stuck there. Brett wanted to know if I could wiggle my toes. He couldn’t see them. I was stuck in a bent-over position so I could easily glance down at my feet and I could thankfully wiggle my toes. Again he said that was good and he said they working on getting me out of the car. He explained we were both covered in some type of tarp to protect me from glass and whatnot as they peeled back the top of my vehicle. He also said he would not leave me. Somehow they got me on a backboard and I vaguely remember being lifted from the car and put in an ambulance.
My daughter ran up to the stretcher when I was taken from the ambulance. She was very scared and her voice was trembling. I wondered how she knew to be there. She accompanied me as my injuries were being assessed. Fractured pelvis, ruptured spleen, broken humerus, fractured sternum, etc.
As I waited to be admitted to the hospital, I talked to my husband on the phone and he told me about a very special young lady that I had no memory of…
It was a typical Thursday. I was on my way to church after work. A car came speeding past me in the center turn lane and drove into oncoming traffic causing a horrific accident.
I pulled into the center lane several yards back to leave room for emergency vehicles that would undoubtedly soon be making their appearance. I grabbed my medical bag and sprinted to the chaos. I was stopped by a gentleman who informed me he was a doctor and able to help. I handed him a couple pair of gloves and we began to triage the victims, going in opposite directions. I ran up to a Mazda and assessed a woman who told me her name was Rhonda. There was a couple standing by her car. They were from a car that was behind her when the accident happened. I explained to Rhonda that I was a CNA currently in nursing school and I was there to help. I assessed her injuries and told her I would be back to further assist her. I needed to check on the others from the accident.
The driver of the truck that caused the accident had a compound fracture just above her ankle. Unfortunately, she didn’t speak English… and she wreaked of alcohol. While assessing her, several bystanders were surrounding her vehicle and trying to find someone to communicate with her. With my limited knowledge of Spanish, I kept repeating,“No muevete, por favor” which translates to “Do not move, please.” I assessed two other gentlemen in an older pick-up truck who appeared to have minor injuries and complained of chest and rib pain most likely associated with the impact of the steering wheel and dashboard. Lastly, i ran up to the fourth car involved. There were minor injuries there as well.
I concluded that my assistance would be most beneficial to Rhonda. I ran back to her and told her again who I was and asked if there was anyone I could call for her. She said, “Yes, my husband, Randy.” She told me his phone number. I asked her to repeat it to be certain I had the number correct. I called and informed him of what had happened. This was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever had to make. I could hear the fear in his voice as he asked more questions trying to understand what all had happened.
Emergency personnel arrived. They wanted a little backstory of who all was involved and injured. When I told them there were no casualties, it took them by surprise because of how mangled the vehicles were. They jumped right in and split into two groups to start cutting the two individuals who were essentially trapped in their cars out, Rhonda and the driver that caused the accident. It took much longer to get Rhonda out than the other driver.
I stayed in constant communication with Randy until Rhonda was loaded in the ambulance and on her way to the hospital. I had missed a call from him due to the loud background noise of the machinery being used to cut open the vehicles. (I still have that voicemail on my phone.) He asked me to give Rhonda a message. He said tell her that he loved her and he would be there as soon as he could, and that Katie and Matt would be waiting for her at the hospital.
As the chaos lessened and things were starting to wrap up, a news reporter pulled me aside and asked me to make a statement. The reporter called me a hero on several occasions, to which my response was “I’m not a hero. I was just where I was supposed to be, when I was supposed to be there”.
That night I received a text message from Rhonda’s daughter, Katie, updating me on her condition and thanking me for everything. I asked if I could stop by the hospital and visit after church on Sunday and she said I could. Sunday came and I remember walking up to the door to her room not knowing what to expect. I knew Rhonda didn’t remember much from the accident and did not recall our encounter. I finally knocked on the door and went in and reintroduced myself and told Rhonda a little of what happened. I spent some time with her and her family, meeting her daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters, and a couple of her friends. I offered if she needed anything to let me know and I would do what I could.
We’ve stayed in touch since the accident. Rhonda came to my going away party before I left for Army Basic Combat Training. We wrote a few letters and recently have been able to spend more time together. I am so grateful our paths crossed, although I hate the horrific circumstances. But I have gained such a great and true friend.
It is crazy that there is so much I don’t remember. I am so grateful for my good samaritan hero, Kayla. Even though she says she is not a hero! Her being there and talking to me could very well have saved my life. My fractures have healed but I had to depend on others for so much for almost 3 months. It was very frustrating but I have a wonderful family and a great group of friends that got me through. I love and appreciate them more than I can ever express. To this day, people ask what happened to the drunk driver. I do not know. I tried not to think about it much during my recovery. I wanted to stay positive and I was just so grateful to be alive.