NEW PALESTINE — Less than a minute after Paige Stroup was pulled from her burning car, the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.
Three passers-by helped the 18-year-old escape from her crashed car earlier this month, and without their help, she surely would have died, Sugar Creek Township Fire Department officials said Thursday as they honored the good Samaritans who saw someone in danger and ran to help.
Colton Delhagen, 18, a recent New Palestine High School graduate, and his girlfriend, Morgan Mann, 17, an incoming senior, were traveling on County Road 300S when they passed the car crash. Mike Grant, 53, a retired EMT from Greenfield, was driving the same way in his own car when he spotted the accident. Delhagen, Mann and Grant stopped and sprang into action to help the girl trapped in her car, emergency officials say.
On Thursday, Stroup and fire department officials presented them the department’s “Heart of the Hero Award,” which honors those who go out of their way to help others.
Stroup lost control of her vehicle on July 7 when she pulled onto a gravel road in the 2800 block of South County Road 300W. The car flipped, the cars windows shattered, and she was trapped inside. When the passers-by came across the accident, the car was already on fire.
Thanks to their quick thinking, she walked away from the accident with only a concussion and a burned leg, injuries less serious than what could have been, fire department officials said.
“I’m beyond thankful,” Stroup said. “I know I’m lucky to be alive.”
Mann held Stroup’s hand, trying to comfort her, telling Stroup they wouldn’t leave her alone while Grant and Delhagen worked to free her from the car.
They hadn’t gotten her more than 100 feet from the crash when the car went up in flames, they said.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘We’ve got to get her out of that car or she’s going to burn up,’” Delhagen said.
It was happenstance Stroup and Delhagen were even driving on the only gravel road in the township that day. They had both taken the route to avoid a separate accident near U.S. 52.
Their detour likely saved Stroup’s life, said Tony Bratcher, the fire department’s public information officer.
“For whatever reason, that other accident, where no one was hurt, caused them to detour, and it saved a life,” Bratcher said.
Grant, who previously worked with fire departments for more than 12 years, said it was by chance he traveled along that road that day.
As an experienced first-responder, Grant knew immediately he and Delhagen needed to get Stroup out of the car.
The trio did an excellent job rescuing her, fire department officials said. The odds of two different cars coming upon the accident on a seldom used road at the same time are small, officials said.
Delhagen and Mann visited the teen while she was recovering in the hospital and returned her glasses, which had been left at the scene.
Stroup feels blessed she has such kind people in her life now.
“It makes me feel like they actually cared about me, like it was actually something personal,” she said with a smile.