Strangers save a family from tragedy in Madera County

FRESNO, Calif.

Brittany Gilchrist and her two daughters, a 4-year-old and a 6-week-old, were rescued by a group of eight strangers. Everyone who witnessed the accident said the family was just moments away from death inside their car.

Most of the Gilchrist family's car burned up after a large white pick-up truck slammed into it head-on. The CHP said the truck's driver blew a tire and lost control.

"I think it might be a good thing I don't remember," Gilchrist said.

The last thing she remembers is turning onto a stretch of the 41 freeway. Since then, she's only seen pictures of her car wreck.

"It's shocking, all of it is just unreal and just hard to even understand or just comprehend that this happened to us," she said.

Brittany and her daughters were pulled from their mangled car by a group of passers-by.

"We're just grateful that we're alive and that the people, the men that helped us, were in the right spot at the right time," Brittany said.

Larry Perez is one of those heroic strangers. He works for the Ponderosa Telephone Company. He said he was test driving a company truck on Highway 41 when he came upon the accident.

He and his co-worker, Zack Taylor, along with several other strangers, began taking care of Brittany before paramedics arrived. "As he was shouting commands, I was just rolling things up and handing it to people," Perez said.

Perez said they used items from an oil spill kit to brace Brittany's neck and back. "We were just reacting," Perez said.

"There are no words to express how grateful we are for that," said Marc Gilchrist, Brittany's husband.

"If it weren't for them we wouldn't be here," Brittany said. She is home now after spending several days in the hospital with compound fractures on her leg, among other broken bones and internal injuries.

Her 4-year-old daughter, Cambria, is still in the hospital with internal injuries as well.

Now the family is facing a long road of recovery. "[We're] just taking it a day at a time," Brittany said.

Brittney's newborn daughter, Shaelin, who was only 6 weeks old at the time, was uninjured in the accident.

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