Off-duty EMT helps crash victim

- A teenager was trapped in her car, afraid for her life. Luckily, a quick-thinking stranger was passing by came to her rescue.

There wasn’t much left of Rowyn Willis' car after a four-car pile-up on County Road 4101, Friday night.

“Looks like a tow truck rammed into five or six cars,” a driver stuck in the wreck called to 911. “People are screaming in a Honda.”

Those were Willis' screams the caller was hearing. Her mother, Christine Barrett, described Rowyn’s panic.

“The doors wouldn't open, the electric windows wouldn't work, she was trapped in the car and smelled fluids from the car,” Barrett said.

That's when Ash Padgett, an off-duty paramedic showed up.

“I was driving past it, stopped, I saw that there was a multi-car pileup, about four cars involved, so I stopped.  Services were needed,” he said.

With Willis trapped in her car, Padgett said another man smashed open her back window, and Padgett climbed inside to make sure she was all right.

“I'm sure very scary when you don't know what's going on,” he said, “so I explained to her all that, explained what they'll do in the hospital with her, and just tried to reassure her that it was going to be okay.”

Willis' mother said he was holding her hand the whole time, and his actions kept the frightened teenager together till first responders showed up.

“He got in the car and held her hand. She said, 'Momma, I don't know how I would've gotten through it without him being there.'”

Padgett knows he was taking a risk climbing into the car, but he said that's what paramedics do.

“Something bad could happen, but it's what we're trained to do and it's a risk you're willing to take, you know?”

The Florida Highway Patrol ticketed the driver who caused the wreck for careless driving. Willis is now resting at home and expected to make a full recovery.
 

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