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A Perfect Stranger

January 2017

Angelia and Kinneil It was a beautiful sunny Spring afternoon, the perfect day for Angelia to take her new motorcycle out for a spin in the South Carolina countryside. Angelia and a friend headed out to ride the open roads of the Upstate region leading to Paris Mountain. Unfortunately for Angelia, she never made it out of her neighborhood. “It happened pretty quickly,” Angelia said of the moment she lost control of her bike, flipping over her handlebars. “But it felt like time stopped.” 

Fortunately for Angelia, Kinneil – a neighbor she had never met – was driving by with her husband and his cousin, Daniel, just as Angelia was leaving for her ride. “All of a sudden, I see this woman on a motorcycle just flying through the air,” Kinneil said, noting she knew immediately they had to do something, and fast. “I looked to my husband and said, ‘Oh my gosh, Mark, I think she just wrecked.’ We get out of the car and see she is lying in a gutter, sort of splayed out and her motorcycle is laying over top of her.”

Angelia remembers lying on the ground, blood gushing from her leg. “Blood was streaming into the gutter,” Kinneil said, recalling what she saw as she arrived on scene. 
 
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At this point, Mark and Daniel pulled the bike off Angelia. Daniel took off his shirt and immediately started applying pressure to the gash on Angelia’s leg, which was now really beginning to pour out of the wound. Mark dialed 9-1-1. 

As Daniel attended to the bleeding and Mark called for help, Kinneil tried to calm Angelia. “I just sat down next to her and grabbed her hand,” Kinneil recalled. “I just started talking to her about anything other than the fact that she was just in a motorcycle wreck.” 

While Angelia’s memories from that incident are less clear, one thing she does remember is her neighbor’s warmth and compassion. “Kinneil was holding my hand, I remember that distinctly,” Angelia said, adding that the comfort this kind-hearted stranger provided meant the world to her. 

With the bleeding contained and help on the way, Kinneil continued providing comfort. “I [felt] really appreciative that I was able to sit down and, even though she was a perfect stranger, just hold her hand,” Kinneil said. “It’s a privilege and a gift that you have the opportunity to be there at the right place, at the right time to help a neighbor.”

“It’s made me so thankful that there are caring people in the world (who) are there to provide what you need at those critical moments,” Angelia said. “If (Kinneil) wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have recovered as well as I did. I know that for a fact.” 
 
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Andrew, one of the first responders that arrived on the scene that day, praised the efforts of these quick thinking bystanders. Across the country, accidents like Angelia’s happen every day and the assistance of individuals like Kinneil, Mark, and Daniel, “helps us more than they would ever realize,” Andrew said. 

“The biggest thing for anybody who witnesses something like this [is to] just remember that doing something is better than doing nothing,” the Emergency Medical Technician said “That can make all the difference between life and death.”

Dr. Marty Lutz echoed Andrew’s assessment. Dr. Lutz is a practicing ER physician at the Greenville, South Carolina hospital where emergency medical responders took Angelia after her accident. Like Andrew, Dr. Lutz applauded the efforts of Kinneil, Mark, and Daniel that day, for stepping up and helping. “We only have about five liters of blood and if you lose a liter, you can start to have significant issues and problems,” the ER doctor explained. Just as Daniel did, you should “hold pressure, firm pressure with your fingertips, or if it’s a large wound: hold it with two hands. To be able to put your fingers literally on the wound and stop it can save someone’s life.

“Don’t be afraid. You’re not going to hurt yourself, you’re not going to hurt the potential patient,” he said urging others who find themselves in similar situations to follow Kinneil’s lead. “All you will do is help. Even if it just a comforting hand.”

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Reflecting back on that fateful day, Kinneil said her response was instinctual and said someone else would have done the same thing if she was the one lying in the street. “If you imagine yourself in a situation where you’ve been in an accident…you’re vulnerable, you’re frightened,” she said. “Think about what you would want. You would want strangers that pass by to care about you as a human being and to stop and comfort you…I think that is what we owe one another.”

Mark, Kinneil’s husband, agrees. That said, he worries some people who find themselves in similar circumstances may not stop for fear they would make things worse, do something wrong, or even get sued. “Everybody can do something. What’s important is to help calm the situation and help the victim—that’s what it’s about,” he said. “You’ve done something, and that’s certainly better than doing nothing. Not taking action is not an option.”

“I don’t want to be the guy that’s sitting on the sideline when somebody needs help,” Mark explained. “I want to be the first guy there and to do what I can.”