KENT COUNTY, Mich. (March 4, 2014) — It has been nearly two weeks since a Kent County woman crashed her car while driving down a busy West Michigan highway. On Tuesday, she was reunited with the men who stopped to help her.
Lauren Nyenhuis was traveling south on US-131 when she lost control. She didn’t know it at the time, but just ahead, was a multi-vehicle pileup. When she began to leave the road her car flipped over the median, landing on the opposite side of the highway.
“You couldn’t see anything,” Nyenhuis said. “I couldn’t see one more tire track and that’s when I knew the car was losing control and I could feel it crushing into the snow and I knew there wasn’t any saving it. If my car hadn’t flipped I would’ve gone into that pileup.”
When Nyenhuis opened her eyes, she said she watched as a semi barreled into another car. She was trapped inside her vehicle and said most of the moments after the crash were a blur. But, there’s one thing she remembers vividly.
“I remember Nate kept saying, ‘don’t close your eyes…don’t close your eyes,'” Nyenhuis said.
Nate Koehn sat with Nyenhuis for nearly 45 minutes in the frigid cold, holding her hand through the passenger side window until help arrived.
“The only thing I could think to do was reach over, grab a hold of your hand, and keep you from going to sleep,” Koehn told Nyehnuis.
Aside from emergency responders, Koehn is the only person Nyenhuis remembers stopping to help her. But, there was one other person who never left her side that day. Pete Amato was the first person to check on her.
“As soon as I got out I could hear her screaming and yelling,” Koehn said. “I was also worried because there were cars sliding coming northbound.”
Both men stayed until Nyehnhuis was taken to the hospital. Since that time, they’ve wondered if the woman who they risked their own safety for had recovered.
“You drive by the same spot and you’re just like, ‘I wonder what happened. Was all of it worth it…was she ok,” Koehn said.
Aside from a concussion and some torn ligaments in her neck and spine, Nyenhuis said she’s also dealing with some post traumatic stress. She said knowing people cared enough to stop and help, while putting their own lives in danger, has given her a gift.
“The fact that people pull over to help me definitely affected how I see things from a different perspective,” Nyenhuis said. “I walked away from that accident in one piece and I walked away with a new outlook on life.”