Bay Area News Group
RICHMOND -- A 24-year-old Vallejo woman came to the rescue of a woman trapped inside a car after a crash on Interstate 80 in Richmond last week, the second time she's rushed to help a motorist in need over the past two years.
Keenia Williams was driving home after working out with a friend around 8:30 a.m. Jan. 22 when she saw a truck hit a car on a stretch of roadway on Interstate 80 near Richmond.¿ The car overturned and landed on its roof, trapping the female driver inside, according to the California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld.
"I saw the accident from a few cars back and when I get there, the door is jammed," Williams said. "So I yank the door wide open and reach in for her seat belt, and it wasn't coming off."
Williams said didn't even think before springing into action, even as she saw smoke coming from the vehicle and worried about the car catching on fire.
"I was just thinking 'I gotta do this. I gotta help her,'" said Williams, who is unemployed. "I just hoped that whoever was inside ... was not dead. "Eventually, other motorists stopped and helped Williams pull the driver to safety. The woman, also from Vallejo, suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital, according to the CHP.
It wasn't the first time Williams rushed to the aid of a motorist in need on the freeway. On Oct. 19, 2011, she was driving in San Francisco when she saw a big rig crash and catch fire on Interstate 280 near the Mariposa Street exit. With her 5-year-old daughter in the car, Williams pulled over, jumped over leaking fuel and ran to the driver. She pulled the man to safety, placing her coat on top of him to protect him against the early-morning chill.
Later, when the driver regained consciousness, he asked to see Williams, thanking her and telling her that he would never forget her. Williams, who is Christian, considers both incidents signs from God.
"I don't know what's going on," she said. "I'm like, 'One time? OK. But two times? C'mon!' ... I have to look behind me. Do I have a cape on or something?"
After the 2011 crash, Williams was honored by the city of San Francisco and the California Highway Patrol. It was not immediately clear whether CHP would honor her again, calling Wednesday's accident relatively minor.
"You'd be amazed, when the average Joe is put in a critical accident, what they're capable of doing," said Officer Jeremiah Wilkerson, a California Highway Patrol spokesman.
Regardless of awards, Williams is searching for meaning in both incidents, especially because of the many challenges she has overcome, growing up poor in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood and becoming a parent at 17.
"I see this as a sign and I'm trying to figure out what God wants from me," she said.