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Strangers rescue man in wrong-way crash on I-40

Wrong way crash on I-10
Posted at 10:08 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 13:49:22-04

PHOENIX, AZ — One Valley couple put their celebratory road trip on hold to help save a man nearly killed by a wrong-way driver.

Tom and Helen Larson were driving to Flagstaff Sunday on Interstate 40 when they rolled up to a messy scene. The two spotted an orange Kia on fire and an RV on its side.

First responders were still on their way, but Tom and a few other men spotted the elderly man behind the wheel of the RV moving and rushed in to help.

Tom said the men used what they could, turning a door into a make-shift stretcher and using a fire extinguisher, to break the window and pull the driver to safety.

“It was amazing that we were able to get him out," said Tom. "We couldn’t do anything about the other person, but at least we could save him.”

The Department of Public Safety said the driver of the other car was heading westbound in the eastbound lanes when it hit the tan-colored RV. That driver was killed on impact, according to investigators.

Tom says he and the other good Samaritans got to the RV just in time. “It was incredible because I mean he already lost everything, but he would’ve lost his life as well," added Tom.

Tom later learned that man's name - 76-year-old John Ross, from California. He and his wife reached out to his family and found out Ross was heading to Oklahoma to see his newly pregnant granddaughter.

Ross's family told the Larsons he was traveling with his dog, a portion of his life savings in cash and the ashes of his late wife. His dog was killed after the RV caught fire and the money burned - but he was able to find the urn holding his wife's ashes still intact.

"He had blood on his face and he just looked vulnerable and lost," said Helen, adding she's proud of her husband's bravery. "It shows people that there is still good humanity out there.”

The Larsons created an online fundraiser, with Ross's family's blessing, in hopes of helping him get back on his feet after recovery.

"I just feel like not all of us are fancy and rich, I don’t know it’s like that old song I get by with a little help from my friends, it’s like he needs us and so I wanna help him because I think he needs us," said Helen.

If you would like to help the Ross family, you can donate here.