Good samaritans help elderly woman from burning van - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Good samaritans help elderly woman from burning van

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HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Driving down Highway 31 in Henryville, Ind., on Saturday, motorists passed by a minivan fully engulfed in flames as dark black smoke rose into the sky.

Pauline Martelli, 81, was driving home from shopping when she realized the van was acting up.

“And then all of a sudden, it popped,” Martelli said.

A few minutes later, smoke started coming through the vents and a couple good samaritans stopped to help.

“She was stopped on the side of the road, and we saw some flames underneath so we had to stop and help her out,” Gabe Elam said.

Of all the cars that drove by her that day, Martelli says only two stopped long enough to see if she was alright. Even though Gabe Elam and Donavon Brindley were on their way to a basketball tournament, they knew they had to pull over.

“They didn't hesitate. They wouldn't go ahead to their game. They just stayed right there with me,” Martelli said.

She says they calmed her nerves and kept her from getting back into the van.

“I was walking around the front of the van to get it, and the boys said you can't go in there you, can't get back in there," Martelli said. "And I just said I want my purse."

After getting her away from the van, the two college students had her sit in the air conditioning of their car. Not 30 minutes later did the gas tank catch fire, igniting the entire van.

“I just saw an opportunity to do a good thing, and I'm glad I did because she's OK,” Brindley said.

The boys say they were raised the right way and were just paying it forward for times they've received help on the side of the road.

“I think we should always help each other out," Elam said. "You know, we're here on this one planet, so we only got each other."

“They have a good heart. They really do,” Martelli said.

Now all that's left is a charred shell of a once white van. Ash remains on the side of the road mixed with springs, door handles and pieces of tire. But while her garage may now be empty, she says her heart is full of gratitude.

“God sure knows how to work, and he works in different ways,” Martelli. said

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