VIDEO: Citizens Honored for Helping Unconscious Driver in Florida
Awards and gifts were presented to civilians for helping a driver in need. The incident occurred on May 5 during rush hour at the intersection of Woolbright Road and Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach.
Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach Post
BOYNTON BEACH — Watching a woman scream and frantically wave her arms as she chased a moving vehicle on foot through one of the city’s busiest intersections, Marko Bartolone had the same initial reaction as any experienced driver in South Florida: rage on the road.
“I thought, ‘That lady is really crazy,'” said Bartolone as he held his 2-year-old daughter, Adalina, Friday afternoon.
But Jannette Rivera wasn’t complaining about anyone’s bad driving. Instead, she desperately tried to grab the attention of motorists when the 2011 Mazda driven by her unconscious colleague, Laurie Rabyor, slowly rolled up the intersection at Woolbright Road and Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach.
What happened next during the May 5 incident was: captured on surveillance video and 40 million views since its release Thursday, according to Boynton Beach Police Department.
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The video shows a group of Good Samaritans springing into action. Some jumped out of their own vehicles to direct traffic. Others, like Bartolone, stood in front of the moving Mazda to try to stop it. A man used a dumbbell to break a rear window, crawl through and put the car in neutral. This allowed others to safely roll the car into a parking space.
Rabyor said Friday that she passed out at the wheel of her car, likely as a result of fasting in preparation for a medical procedure. The 63-year-old West Palm Beach resident was taken to hospital but was back at work the next day.
Rabyor, a grandmother, was reunited with some of her rescuers Friday afternoon during a press conference at the city police.
“I would probably be dead,” Rabyor said, when asked what would have happened if she hadn’t been helped. “That intersection is terrible. Driving through it wide awake is terrible, let alone unconscious.”
Boynton Police were approached by a supervisor from CityShade Co., the Boynton Beach company that employs Rabyor and Rivera, to review the surveillance video of the intersection. The supervisor said she wanted to honor her employees for their empathetic actions.
Police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said the video “torn up” the sergeant watching the video for the compassion shown to Rabyor.
David Formica, a social studies teacher at Congress Middle School, used a dumbbell that postman Davida Peele was carrying in her vehicle to smash the Mazda’s rear window. An unknown man then crawled his head through the window and put the wayward car in neutral.
“What comes to mind is teamwork,” says Formica, a resident of Boca Raton. “Perfect strangers coming together. How beautiful it was to see.’
Formica singled out the actions of Rivera, who can be seen in the video, risking her life by running after the Mazda as it snaked into the intersection.
“Her courage and bravery were so amazing,” Formica said.
Rivera said she acted out of “instinct” when she saw the danger her colleague was in. The women have worked together for three years.
“I haven’t thought about my life,” Rivera said. “I saw that another car was going to hit her and I said, ‘Oh no, she’s going to get hurt.’ I tried to do my best.”
That was good enough to prevent a disaster, or even a fender bender, from unfolding.
Peele, the postman who delivered the dumbbell, said the incident “could have been much worse than it was” and said she thought about it a few days later.
“Because we were all together, no matter how big or small they were, she got to celebrate Mother’s Day,” Peele said.
Said Rabyor, “There are good people who will put themselves in front of you to make sure you’re okay and I love that.”
Rabyor and her rescuers each received a free week-long cruise and $2,000 in gift cards from Royal Caribbean Cruises.