Woman becomes fast friends with Good Samaritan who rescued her from raging car fire

By Rachel Wulff

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    ROSEVILLE, California (KOVR) -- A good Samaritan saved a woman’s life with his quick thinking along I-80 near Roseville.

Flames fully engulfed the woman’s car on the Riverside Avenue off-ramp.

“I think God just put me right there in the right place at the right time,” Elton Ward said.

Ward was driving with his six-year-old daughter when he saw the car fire.

“When I get there, I see Kristine and she is struggling to get out of the car,” Ward said. “That’s when my adrenaline started rushing, “We got to get her out of here.’ ”

Kristine Smith — who recently underwent knee surgery — was trapped inside. Her husband and granddaughter who had both already escaped were unable to reach her.

“So my first instinct was, ‘Grab your purse, unlock yourself and kick that door out,’ ” Smith said. “But I couldn’t, so I said, ‘OK, God. It’s me and you,’ because I went to open the door and the flames lit up and I thought, ‘OK, clear a path.’ And that’s when I looked up and my little angel here said, ‘Let me help you out.’ ”

Ward reached in to grab her and pulled her away from the raging inferno.

“I was not panicked. I was not fearful,” Smith said. “I was very calm. When I fell apart was afterwards.”

Ward and Smith have become fast friends.

“Elton is part of our family now and our kids have texted him,” Smith said.

The two couldn’t be more different, but really they are the same.

“That could have been my little sister, my daughter, my grandma, my grandpa,” Ward said.

Smith and her family are grateful, wanting to share the story to unite us in a time when we have become so divided.

“We always see all these violent things with our young people,” Smith said. “Well this is an example of a young person who didn’t think about himself.”

“Everybody in a sense is our family because that’s somebody else’s family and you want your family protected,” Ward said. “So that’s just the way I look at things.”

Smith says the fire sparked when her husband drove over a large package of flammable insulation that was lying in the roadway. She suspects it combusted with the car’s catalytic converter.

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