When my grandmother was a young woman attending nursing school, she once got into a terrible car accident. She was driving across central Florida, from the University of Tampa to her parents’ house in Vero Beach.
It was dark and she saw a road work crew up ahead, so she tried to go around them on the right. She didn’t see the canal and there were no guard rails in those days. She and the car went over the edge and under the water.
A black truck driver was coming along in the other direction and he saw her car go in. “Aren’t you gonna do something? ” he asked the white men my grandmother had been trying to avoid. “There’s alligators in that water!” they replied.
So this black stranger dove into the canal. He wrenched her car door open but the pressure of the water slammed it shut on his hand. He lost three fingers disengaging from the car and coming back up for air. He had his son with him and told the boy to get his tire iron. Then he dove back under again. This time he smashed the window, grabbed my grandmother, and carried her to shore.
It is my family’s own Good Samaritan story. While the people of her group ignored her in the ditch and refused to help, a hated stranger sacrificed much to save her. He saved not only my grandmother but each of her descendents. I would not be here and my son would not be here if a stranger had not paid three fingers for our lives. I will always be grateful for his bravery.