PHOENIX — Two strangers will be forever connected after the father of a crash victim meets the good Samaritan who held his son in his final moments.
Friday, 24-year-old Derrick Coleman died after a crash at the intersection of 35th Avenue and Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. Coleman was riding passenger in a Honda, when it slammed into a traffic pole at the intersection. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
"He was just here Thursday night," cried James Coleman, Derrick's father. "Last time I had seen him he was sitting in the yard."
Chris Krueger, who was working at the Raceway Car Wash across the street from the wreck, immediately ran over to the car where he found Derrick Coleman gasping for breath.
"It was horrible," recalled Krueger. "I tried to comfort him and calm him down and basically told him 'Hang in there. They're on their way. Don't go to sleep. Don't close your eyes. Breathe with me.' He pretty much took his last breath and I had to walk away. I haven't slept in two days."
Krueger reached out to ABC15 asking for help finding Derrick Coleman's family. James Coleman agreed to meet with Krueger, and the two shared an emotional embrace near the crash site, where friends and family installed a cross and vigil in Derrick's name.
"It was bad pretenses but I'm glad I did get to meet him and I'm glad he did get to get some comfort out of it," said Krueger.
"This is going to live with him as well," said James Coleman. "We're both gonna have this connection of this suffering of someone special to me leaving this world, and someone he didn't even know and was helpless to help, leaving this world right in front of him. When I heard about it I just felt better that he wasn't by himself."
Both Coleman and Kruger said they plan to stay in touch.
Phoenix police say a 51-year-old man driving a Ford Explorer was turning left on 35th Avenue when his SUV was struck by a Honda driver who ran a red light at 35th Avenue. Authorities say the 28-year-old man who was driving the Honda was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Police say they believe the driver of the Honda may have been impaired when the crash occurred.
The 51-year-old driver of the Ford remained on scene and was not injured, police say. He was evaluated, and no indication of impairment was observed, according to Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.