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Teenager helps man in last moments of his life following fatal car accident

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 8:58 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 11:53 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Early Sunday morning, an 18-year-old from Louisville and her friends were traveling north on I-71 when they saw an SUV turned upside down and on fire.

“The first thing I did when I got out of the car was called 911,” Makayla Ash said. “We got to the car and there’s like a light on in the car and so I’m looking around to see if I can see anything and there’s a person in the car.”

Ash is CPR certified and has dreams of one day becoming a nurse, so she instantly went into rescue mode when she saw a man was in danger.

“I tried to open the door with the handle and obviously it wouldn’t open because it was jammed,” Ash explained. “So, I got back down on the ground and you know I’m talking to him, I’m telling him it’s going to be okay, you know, help’s on the way and he’s just grunting you know telling me, mumbling under his breath that he was scared.”

Inside the flipped over and damaged SUV was 41-year-old Robert Kurtis Thomas.

Ash held Thomas’s hand in the terrifying moments as others tried to pry open the door all while trying to extinguish a small fire growing outside of the truck.

“Well the fire started getting bigger,” Ash remembered Sunday morning. “And the engine started to make a weird noise.”

Ash stayed on the phone with a police dispatcher for 15 minutes while she waited on first responders to show up, she said they were lost.

“I was telling the lady on the phone, like the car is engulfed in flames ... and help isn’t here, they can’t find us,” Ash said. “And that’s when I told her I was going to run down the interstate and flag them down.”

When EMS and Fire finally arrived, Thomas was dead.

Ash said she’s heartbroken but wants his family to know he had people fighting for his life and were there for him in his last moments.

“I do not know the man personally but he seemed like a strong man, he fought for his life.” Ash said. “His eyes were open, he was trying to talk to me. I’m glad that I was there, I’m glad God put me there for a reason even if it was to be there for the last moments of his life.”

A GoFundMe has been created to support Thomas’ family.

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