Local hero saves a woman and daughter from burning car

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A young driver knew she was in trouble when she saw smoke coming from under the hood, but she had no idea how much trouble. We sat down with that driver and the man who knew he had to help. We were able to introduce Hannah Yells and her mother Madeline Harrison to Jeff Smelley, the man who saved Hannah’s life earlier today on I-20.

“Today your title was hero,” said Michelle Harrison, Hannah Yell’s Mom.

An unlikely hero.

“And someone on I-20 still slammed on their brakes and was going reverse on I-20 he backed up on I-20. He had seen the fire that was already underneath my car, that had already started I didn’t know the car was on fire already when I was in it I was taking my time getting my things,” said Hannah Yells, driver.

Jeff Smelley had a simple warning.

“You need to get out of the car now the car is on fire it’s going to go,” said Smelley. “Within five minutes the car became engulfed in flames.”

“There’s not even a steering wheel, there’s no seat there’s the frame of seats, there’s not seat, there’s no dash there’s no steering wheel there’s nothing it’s just these weird looking pieces of metal,” said Harrison.

Because of Jeff’s warning, Hannah was not inside but that’s not the reason he stopped.

“I didn’t need a thank you. I was doing what I was doing, she was safe she made it back to her family and that was all I was set out to do was to make sure she got out of the car and that she was safe,” said Smelley.

“I didn’t get a chance to meet Jeff the good Samaritan at that point, but I’m really happy to meet him now. My circle of loved ones grew today by one person at least and that person was a complete stranger to me but he did the right thing and he saved my daughter’s life and I can’t be more grateful,” said Harrison.

A story that could be very different. Hannah’s mom hopes that their message speaks to you.

“This story will help more people reach out and help even a stranger,” said Harrison.

A story that could have been extremely different. Hannah’s mother also wants to remind you to hug your loved ones a little tighter because things can change in an instant.

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