Bowling Green football coach Dino Babers said he was keeping a promise he made years ago. ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University football coach Dino Babers and assistant athletic trainer Chelsea Lowe helped save a motorist from serious injury after an accident Saturday.
Babers and Lowe were on the first of four team buses coming back from the Falcons game at Buffalo. While traveling west on I-90 near the Cleveland suburb of Avon, Ohio, just before midnight, a car swerved in front of that bus and hit the center divider.
Moments later, the car caught fire.
“The bus driver asked for permission to stop the bus, and I gave it to him — but I told him not to stop the other three buses,” Babers said. “Then he asked to go check out the car and see if the driver was hurt.
“I told him no, because if he was hurt there wouldn’t be anyone to drive the bus home.”
So that first BG bus, which was unaffected by the crash, stopped a short distance away, and Babers and Lowe went to the car.
“The closer we got to the car, the clearer we could see smoke billowing,” Lowe said. “We knew whoever was in the car wasn’t just going to walk away and have everything be OK.”
The pair helped pull the injured driver, identified by Avon police as 25-year-old Amber Nettles of Elyria, out of the car and a safe distance away from the burning vehicle before local police and fire officials arrived.
“Chelsea was there comforting the woman, and I went back to the car to get her purse and keys and other valuables,” Babers said.
Avon police confirmed the crash and said Nettles was taken to St. John Medical Center in Westlake. A hospital spokesman said they had no information on a patient by that name.
“We had carried or dragged her about 30 feet away to what was a safer place,” Lowe said.
“My main concern was to hold her in a position where she was as comfortable as possible while we waited for paramedics, and that she stayed alert and as pain-free as possible while we waited.”
Lowe, whose father was a volunteer fireman and whose husband, Benjamin, is an EMT, said she jumped at the chance to help.
“With my training and background, there was no point where I considered not trying to help,” she said. “I wanted to make sure a human being was OK, and I wanted to help in any way I could.”
Babers said the motivation for the good deed came nearly 30 years ago when a couple of Good Samaritans helped him.
“In 1987 I was at Arizona State [as a graduate assistant], and I just got a job at Eastern Illinois,” he said. “So I got a U-Haul to drive from Arizona to Charleston, Ill.
“Somebody told me to take a shortcut through the hills of Arizona, and when I hit elevation I hit snow. Suddenly, I am driving in snow for the first time in my life.”
During the drive, Babers lost control of the car and found himself in a gully by the side of the road.
“I’m sitting there, looking at the snow, and I’m going to wait for help — even though I’m sitting there in a short-sleeve shirt, no blankets, no food, nothing,” he said. “Then I noticed my lights weren’t visible because of the accumulation of snow, and I barely could open the door to the car.”
Finally, Babers saw a pair of headlights heading his way, and a couple drove the coach to the nearest town.
“There was so much snow, the wrecker to tow my car wouldn’t go out,” Babers said. “I got snowed in for three days in Quemado, N.M.”
Eventually Babers returned home, but he never forgot the Largo Motel and Café, sending Christmas cards each year. He also remembered a promise he made to the couple who saved his life.
“I kept trying to give this couple some money to thank them for what they did, and they wouldn’t take it,” Babers said.
“So I told the woman, ‘Ma’am, I’ve got to give you something.’
“And she said, ‘Promise me one thing: If you are ever driving, and you see someone on the side of the road, promise me you will stop.’ ”
Babers said he has done his best to keep that promise. Once he helped revive a person who had a heart attack in a hotel parking lot, and another time he helped extract two drivers from a car that had flipped in Dallas.
“It was an icy night in Dallas,” Babers said. “This car lost control and spun in the middle lane, and when it stopped it was on its side.
“So I and several other guys went to the car, with several of us holding the car in place so it wouldn’t tip while two other guys are on top of the car, pulling two guys out of the car.”
Babers said pulling the passengers out of the tipped car was not the biggest danger they faced.
“This car is turned on its side, and people were flying past us,” Babers said. “I thought, ‘Can’t you people see? It’s icy and the car is on its side!’
“If you don’t stop, at least go slow — with a little caution.”
LEWIS HONORED: Bowling Green wide receiver Roger Lewis was named Mid-American Conference East Division offensive player of the week.
Lewis caught 10 passes for 201 yards in the Falcons’ 28-22 win at Buffalo on Saturday to win the weekly honor for the second time this season.
Blade staff writer Taylor Dungjen contributed to this report.