Sara Sorby was having one of the worst moments in her life, then she was rescued by a heroic stranger. She told her story to Ellen.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It was a terrifying moment for a young mother Sara Sorby and her infant son on Monday when the vehicle they were driving began filling with smoke.
It happened along the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 and Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.
“I could smell it before I could see it, I could smell it in the car,” Sorby said.
Images of her charred 2008 Nissan Quest, with the shattered windshield and melted upholstery, is all Sorby needs to see to recall the terrifying experience.
“That’s where [my son] was sitting,” Sorby said as she pointed to a photograph showing a melted infant seat strapped to the right rear passenger seat.
She and her son, Ben, were driving to a medical appointment about 2 p.m. when trouble forced her to the side of the road. The vehicle began running rough, so she phoned her father who instructed her to pull off the highway.
Then, it all happened so quickly.
“I got out of the car and held my son, and we just stood there and watched cars go by us as my car was smoking,” Sorby said.
She said she was in shock as her car filled with flames. She was standing in disbelief as the vehicle began burning and was unable to move away.
“I was frozen,” Sorby said. “You see this and think, ‘Do something, move,’ and you freeze.”
It’s at that moment that Sorby’s good Samaritan pulled over to help.
He quickly got Sorby and her son away from the car before returning curbside to retrieve some of their personal belongings.
But Sorby was so upset, she never got his name and was never able to thank him for his help.
WCCO-TV eventually tracked the man down and reunited the two over the telephone.
The voice on the other end said, “You don’t need to thank me, you really don’t.” To which Sorby quickly insisted, “I really do. You have no idea.”
As it turns out, her previously unknown angel is a Plunkett’s Pest Control technician named Joseph Stampley.
“She needed help,” Stampley said. “She just needed help, and I would want someone to do that for me and my son.”
Using his work respirator, Stampley retrieved the child’s medical records from the vehicle and was able to find Sorby’s purse near the burning car. Meanwhile, his most important job was to keep Sorby and her son a safe distance away.
“I’m no hero,” Stamplet said. “I just did what any normal decent human being would do.”