A Georgia woman is grateful she’s alive today after her car caught on fire and nobody stopped to assist her on the busy highway.
The Cordele woman recalled the incident when she was stuck in her car on the interstate and cars just zoomed past her without intervening to help her out. She said, “I actually wish we had more Erics because he didn’t have to do what he did. That’s why I said everybody passed,” Monica Westbrook said.
Last week while she was traveling to work her car developed mechanical problems and shut down completely on I-75 North leaving her barely able to reach the exit ramp. Soon smoke started coming out of her car and she was unable to get out of the car.
Recalling the terrifying moment she said, “The smoke started getting heavier and heavier, and that’s when I said, ‘Oh, my God, this car is going to catch on fire.’ Then, I attempted to get out of the vehicle and that’s when I realized I couldn’t,” Westbrook said.
It was a fight against time for Westbrook who was locked in her own car that was about to explode and she desperately started kicking on the back glass to make it out through the trunk, but sadly that didn’t work. “I was in panic mode — my car was full of smoke and I just couldn’t think. Cars were coming down the ramp and they were just going by. I just knew I was gone,” Westbrook said.
When all seemed lost for her, there came a Good Samaritan along the way who saved her life, reminding us of the story of the man on the Jericho road in the Bible. When the priest saw the injured man on the road he just turned a blind eye and passed by, the Levite also ignored him and went on his way. But it was a Good Samaritan who poured in the oil and wine and bandaged his wounds and took him to an inn to recover.
Eric Zastawrny was that Good Samaritan who spotted her car and rescued her from a near-death experience. Zastawrny works as a safety manager and had a fire extinguisher with him in his company car. “He hit the window — he had a fire extinguisher. He was actually coming to put the car out, not realizing that I was inside the car. He actually broke the window with the fire extinguisher and pulled me out through the window,” Westbrook said.
Zastawrny said that he “Pulled her out and at that time the car was back into flames and we got away from the car.” Westbrook was grateful for his help and says that Zastawrny comforted her in her most difficult moment. “When he pulled me out of the car, I just held onto him, and he just held on tighter,” Westbrook said.
Eric went above and beyond to help a stranger but says it just felt natural to help Westbrook out. “Be a good neighbor, be willing to help somebody out. It clearly goes a long way,” Zastawrny said.
Westbrook calls Eric her hero and is indebted to his kindness towards her, “Eric is definitely a hero and I will be forever grateful for him. Eric now has a new Monica,” Westbrook said. She met Eric on Thursday and thanked him by giving him a card and flowers.
Matthew 22:37-39 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”