CHICAGO (CBS) — Joanna Girmscheid says she’s alive today thanks to some “perfect strangers” who didn’t just walk away when she nearly died earlier this month, after her car plunged into a pond in the northwest suburbs.
Girmscheid was pulling off the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway and onto Illinois Route 47 on Aug. 3, when her car flipped over and into a retention pond in Huntley.READ MORE: Arson Suspected In Fire At Citibank In The Loop That Injured One Person
Several people who saw the crash rushed into action, pulled her to safety, and started performing CPR. Paramedics later took her to Sherman Hospital.
Nearby traffic cameras caught the rescue on video, which shows several people wading into the pond, and struggling to pull her to shore, where one woman can be seen performing chest compressions.
On Wednesday, she got a chance to thank the people who saved her. Her right arm still in a cast, Girmscheid hugged the men and women who pulled her out of the water at Illinois State Police District 15 headquarters in Downers Grove.READ MORE: Annette Nance-Holt Confirmed As Chicago's First Black Female Fire Commissioner
“Everyone standing behind me is the true definition of a hero. What happened to me, the car accident, could have ended very tragically. It could have ended in a funeral, and instead it ended in celebration, and my life will continue because of these people,” she said.
Illinois State Police presented the good Samaritans with commendation letters, thanking them for their actions to save Girmscheid. Police identified the good Samaritans as Mark and Derek Fivelson, of Gilberts; Jesus Flores, of Roundlake; Patrick Gaughan, of Marengo; Frankie Gonzanez, of Sandwich; Ismael Gutierrez, of Aurora; Donald Hataway, of Machesney Park; Army National Guard Cpl. Nathan Jennings, also of Machesney Park; Nicholas Mason, of Sycamore; Evelyn Pgan, of Hampshire, and Matthew Worden, of Belvidere.
“Many people like to think that, if something like this came up in their life, that they would stop and they would do that; but that’s not simply true. You have to have something special inside of you to stop, to do what needs to be done, and these heroes behind us had that,” Illinois Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said.MORE NEWS: Red Cross Seeking Donations As Blood Shortage Worsens
Girmscheid said it didn’t seem like it, but she was conscious during the whole ordeal, which makes her realize even more how brave her “perfect strangers” were.