Gasping for air as the seat belt of her wrecked SUV held hard against her chest, Barbara Inglett believed her last breaths were only moments away.
Then she heard the eight words she'll never forget: "I'm going to get you out of here."
The man did, pushing aside broken glass as he slid through a window into her Chevy Blazer, which had come to rest on its roof after being T-boned by a truck Saturday morning at Lewiston Road and Interstate 20 in Grovetown. Mrs. Inglett calls this man her hero, her angel.
She would like to call him by his name, but she doesn't know it.
By the time she had reoriented herself, the man was nowhere to be found. She wants to thank him.
"My feeling is that this is a hero that needs to be recognized, that he saved my life," said Mrs. Inglett, who suffered bruises and cuts on her upper body and arms.
According to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office accident report, her SUV was hit on the right passenger side by a truck turning left onto Lewiston Road from the I-20 westbound exit ramp. The accident report states that Mrs. Inglett ran a red light, which she disputes, and she was cited for failure to obey a traffic-control device.
The driver of the truck, Francisco Acahua, of Martinez, was cited for not stopping at the scene of an accident, trying to remove/conceal the license plate and not having proof of insurance.
Mrs. Inglett was heading to work at Hair Ways, a salon on Columbia Road. While she was trapped, Mrs. Inglett recalls pleading with her rescuer to get her out and him promising her that he would.
Others at the scene were telling him not to do so, she said, to wait for the ambulance to get there. Mrs. Inglett thinks that might be why the man didn't stick around, for fear that he did something wrong.
Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Gay said as a general rule it's best not to move people hurt in an auto accident unless they are facing imminent danger. Shifting their position could cause more damage if they have a spinal cord injury.
"If the vehicle is not on fire, then the best thing is to leave them in that position," Lt. Gay said.
For her part, Mrs. Inglett is thankful that this man -- who she could only describe as a black man in his mid-20s -- followed his heart. She's certain about what would have happened if he hadn't.
"In some cases, my neck could have been broken. Maybe it was the wrong thing to do," she said. "But in this case ... I'm telling you, if that man didn't have the determination to rescue me, I don't know if I'd be here. I believe that from my heart."
Reach Mike Wynn at (706) 823-3218 or email@example.com.