By Sara Bondell - May 05, 2020
Every morning, Pam Lowry drives down Interstate 75. It’s part of the same routine she’s followed for the past seven years she’s worked at Moffitt.
But one day in December was anything but routine.
After merging onto the interstate, Lowry saw a smashed-up car and a pick-up truck on its side. Ignoring the cold, windy weather and her outfit choice—a Christmas shirt with bright red elf shoes for a Christmas party later that day—she immediately pulled over.
She heard a man screaming his arm was gone and saw a group of men grabbing a ladder out of their truck.
“I started running and yelling, ‘I am a nurse!’” she said. “One of the guys getting the ladder literally picked me up and pulled me over the guardrail. I yelled, ‘Where is he?’ and I heard a voice say, ‘I am in here.’ I am looking at the truck and all I see is blood.”
Lowry and the three other men who pulled over—including one who didn’t speak English—put the ladder against the flipped truck. One man stood on the ground handing up items while another hunched on the roof of the truck holding the ladder. The third man held Lowry up as she climbed the ladder to reach the victim.
One of the Good Samaritans gave Lowry his belt so she could make a tourniquet; another offered his jacket to keep the man warm. One even gave the shirt off his back to cover the victim’s arm.
“I just kept talking to this man in the truck,” Lowry said. “I never saw his face because he was facing the road, so all I could do was talk to him and stroke his head.”
When firefighters arrived, Lowry followed the man into the ambulance to call his wife. When she opened his phone, her heart sank. She was looking down at picture of a little boy in a baseball uniform.
The man thanked her and told her Merry Christmas, but Lowry still didn’t know his name. After he was airlifted from the scene, the four strangers hugged for a few minutes. Then they all went their separate ways.
The next day, Lowry called the hospital and was able to find the man they had saved.
“He said, ‘I remember you.’ He asked what made me do this and I said, ‘It wasn’t just me, there were four of us. Four complete strangers who had to trust each other.’”
Those four strangers saved the man’s life. His arm was amputated just above the wrist; the belt tourniquet had saved the rest of his arm.
Lowry has stopped at other car accidents before, but she doesn’t know why she pulled over this time. Maybe it was the 20 years of experience she has as an emergency room nurse, maybe it was the blood stained across the white paint of the truck. But no matter what the reason was, she says the experience changed her life.
“I drive over the rut the truck made every night on my way home from work and I think about it. I think about the man and about the little boy in the picture,” she said. “The kindness of the total strangers was so overwhelming. I was the person who had the medical knowledge, but I could have never done what I did alone. It was truly a Christmas miracle.”