Monica Westbrook is grateful to be alive, and a large part is due to a good Samaritan who stopped when they saw her car filling with smoke on the side of an interstate.
“I actually wish we had more Erics because he didn’t have to do what he did. That’s why I said everybody passed,” she said.
Westbrook was on her way to work when her vehicle began experiencing mechanical problems. While driving on I-75 North in Warner Robins, Georgia her car broke down, and she was barely able to move over to an exit ramp.
“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,” she said.
As she struggled inside her car, which quickly began to fill with smoke, vehicle after vehicle passed her by on the road.
“I was in panic mode — my car was full of smoke and I just couldn’t think.”
‘I just knew I was gone.’
But just when the situation couldn’t get anymore dire, a guardian angel came by.
Eric Zastawrny spotted Westbrook’s car and immediately pulled over to extinguish the fire.
What he didn’t know was that Westbrook was still inside.
“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,” she recalled.
He got there just in time because moments after Westbrook escaped, her car became engulfed in flames.
Zastawrny, a safety manager, said it was the natural thing to do.
“Be a good neighbor, be willing to help somebody out. It clearly goes a long ways.”
“Eric is definitely a hero and I will be forever grateful for him.”
It boggles my mind how people continued to drive past when Monica’s car was filling with smoke and she was struggling to escape. I’m so glad there are people like Eric who exist.
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