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’He will forever be my hero’: Woman pulled from car moments before it burst into flames

Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 6:41 PM EST
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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - January 18 started out as a typical Monday for Mercedes Boggs, but it quickly turned into a reminder of how short life can be.

“I didn’t think anything of it. I’ve driven that bridge a million times. I’ve drove that road a million times. I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Boggs.

Boggs, a graduate student at Lindsey Wilson College, was on her way to work and attempted to turn onto a bridge near Jenkins. She hit an icy patch and her tire went over the bank. Her car flipped and everything went flying.

“At that point, I hit my head because I don’t remember anything. It knocked me out so I don’t remember anything except waking up from the water to the creek it was really cold, so it woke me up and when I woke up and I came to, I realized that my windshield was shattered and I was just like in panic mode,” said Boggs.

The car was flipped on its side, and water from the creek was pouring in. Boggs could not find a way out of the car.

“When I was wrecking, I remember thinking that I’m getting ready to leave my whole family and like I didn’t think that I was going to make it out,” said Boggs.

Boggs says she knew, God had other plans for her when she saw a man walking down the hill to her car.

“When I saw him, it was just like everything was fine. I wasn’t even scared anymore. I just knew that that was like my saving grace,” said Boggs. “Kids look up to like batman and superman and like those superheroes. That’s how I look at John now. He will forever be my hero. He was the person that saved my life.”

The man was John Burke, a coal miner on his way home from working the night shift. Burke was a complete stranger to Boggs.

He pulled Boggs out of the car and helped her walk up the hill. Not knowing then, she could have died seconds later.

“30 seconds, we turned around and the car went up into flames like literally, he saved my life,” said Boggs. “Had I just sat there in that car, that would have been me. I would have been what was burning.”

After she was taken to the hospital, Boggs realized she had no way to contact Burke. She did not even know his name. So she sent out a plea on Facebook, asking people to help find the man who saved her life.

“That is what this community is great for is coming together when someone needs you and I really needed him just to thank him and just to show him my appreciation,” said Boggs.

The post spread like wildfire. 900 shares and a few hours later, Burke messaged her.

“He said he hadn’t been able to sleep all day that he was wondering how that girl was that was in that car accident so he was just as thankful to hear from me as I was to hear from him,” she said.

She says Burke is humble and is just glad he could help.

“He’s like, ‘It’s really fine. It was no big deal I just kinda stopped and helped,’ but like to my family and to me he saved my life. Looking at the pictures, my driver’s seat was burnt up like that was the entire driver’s seat was burnt up. It was gone,” said Boggs.

Burke and Boggs continue to talk every day to check in on one another.

“He was a stranger that day but ever since then he’s been more than family,” said Boggs.

Boggs did not suffer any major injuries in the crash. She had a headache and has some back pain, but says it was like a bubble was around her the entire time.

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