Two Gaston men look to thank those who helped rescue them from a - - Columbia, South Carolina

Two Gaston men look to thank those who helped rescue them from accident

The remains of the Dodge Intrepid. The remains of the Dodge Intrepid.

John Wertz and Jeffrey Vazquez say what is left of their car following an accident on Highway 321 in April could actually be the poster child for Dodge.

Thanks to a number of people who stopped to rescue them, Wertz and Vazquez can say thankfully say they survived.

"You know," Wertz said, "you don't expect your life to change at 8:30 on a Thursday night just because you went out to dinner."

The two men were heading back to their Gaston home that night when a driver, who troopers say was traveling on the wrong side of the road, barreled into their Dodge Intrepid head on.

"I can remember the thought of, 'This is it,' going through my mind and actually feeling surprised when I felt the car coming to a stop in the grass," Wertz said.

Troopers said the man who caused the wreck died on the scene as his Buick went up in flames.

"I managed to get myself out of the vehicle," Wertz said, "but with both legs broken, that was all I could do. I fell face down."

Wertz said he and Vazquez would have burned up, too, but both owe their lives to the ordinary, everyday people who stopped to help.

"I remember laying there," Wertz recalled. "One man was throwing dirt on the fire while four people were working on getting him out."

Neither remembers when emergency crews got there. When the first responders reached the scene, both were flown to the hospital with too many severe injuries to even list.

"It was two weeks after when I finally woke up and realized that I was in the hospital," Vazquez said.

After being in the hospital for two months and medical bills approaching two million dollars, the two are back home in Gaston adjusting to a new life in wheelchairs.

"Even now," Wertz said, "it doesn't really feel like home because everything's had to be moved because of the wheelchairs. We're not able to sleep in our own beds. We have hospital beds."

Wertz and Vazquez aren't looking for handouts or even sympathy. They simply want to put names with the faces and know who exactly stopped to help.

"I want to thank them," Wertz said, "because, like I said before, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the people that were coming down the road and saw the accident and stopped. You know, they're the reason we're here."

The only problem is they're not quite sure exactly who stopped to help and that was their inspiration for telling their story.

They want to personally thank those heroes.

If you stopped to help or know someone else who did, contact the WIS Newsroom at (803) 758-1261 or e-mail Chad Mills.

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