Juan Ganaja, a delivery man for the Hook Burger Chain in Burbank, California, is being hailed a hero after rescuing an 18 year old girl from the wreckage of a burning car on Saturday morning.
According to NBC Los Angeles, Ganaja was making his third delivery stop around 4:20 am that morning when a woman’s screams for help caught his attention. It was still dark, so he didn’t see the car wreck, but he could hear Savannah Underwood’s screams from a distance. In fact, the accident was far enough away that Ganaja had to climb two fences and cross some train tracks before he saw the flames of the burning car.
Underwood had managed to pull herself from the wreckage of the car despite a broken leg and crushed pelvis and was still calling for help when Ganaja ran up. He was able to carry her away from the car just before it was fully engulfed in flames. The LA Times reports that when the young woman told Ganaja about her 5 friends who were still in the vehicle he tried to return to help but by then the intensity of the flames was to much to withstand.
The accident is still under investigation, but reports indicate that the driver of the Nissan Altima, who was not Underwood, lost control on a curving freeway underpass and plowed into a concrete pillar. Underwood, who is recovering int he hospital and has had several surgeries to help repair the injuries she sustained, was the only survivor of the accident. Underwood’s mother, Valerie Lucas, told reporters her daughter was strong. She said:
When she was told what happened, which was the following day, she was crying. And that was the first thing out of her mouth, was that she now had five new angels to watch over her.
Her father, David Underwood said, “To the other families, all we can say is we’re so sorry.”
The morning after the accident, Underwood herself tweeted:
I survived for a reason last night, & am determined to figure out why, stay strong everyone <3. I just want to wake up from this nightmare.
And as for the man who saved her life, Ganaja told reporters on Tuesday, “I’m not a hero. It’s just me.” He explained that he still visits the site of the crash every day and feels deeply sorry for the victims he couldn’t save and their families.
Although the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has not yet officially identify the 5 victims whose lives were lost, they were identified by family and friends as Stephen Stoll, Sebastian Forero, Sameer Nevarez, Malak Hariri and Sugey Cuevas.
Photo: Screenshot/NBC News