DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) — Friday evening, Jesse Anderson was on his way to his home from work when he came across a scene he would never forget.
“I was looking at my radio real quick and I looked up and all I see was just a plume of smoke,” Anderson, 19, said.
Anderson was driving along U.S. Highway 90 from his job at Surf Hut in Miramar Beach to his home in Paxton when he saw the crash at Girl Scout Road in DeFuniak Springs. He said he saw that a Chevy Tahoe rear-ended a Honda Accord, totaling the Accord, injuring three women and trapping two inside.
“I jumped out of my truck and ran to the Tahoe,” Anderson said. “They were getting out the car so I knew they were functionally OK.”
“I got to the Honda Accord and there was an older lady in the front seat, a older lady in the passenger seat and an older lady in the rear seat,” he added.
After making sure the front two passengers were alright, Anderson said he went to check on the passenger in the back seat. “I went to the rear window and I couldn’t get the door open.”
By this point, Anderson said a police officer had arrived on scene. “Me and the officer tried prying on it, we couldn’t get it open,” he said.
Anderson said he used to participate in the Walton County Sheriff’s Office’s Explorers program so he had experience handling a scene.
“At that point, it was more desperation to make sure she was OK than anything else.”
“So, I jumped in the driver’s seat with her,” Anderson continued. “Pretty much, I just checked on her to make sure, like, ‘your fingers wiggle; your toes wiggle; you’re OK,’ kind of thing. She had a cut on the back of her head, she was covered in blood.”
The backseat passenger, Judy Lilly, ended up with 11 stitches in her head. Driving from Kentucky, Lilly, 80, and her two daughters, Terri Tyson and Susan Payton, were on their way to family’s house that evening. They were preparing to make their last left-hand turn onto Girl Scout Road.
Payton said the oncoming driver said she glanced at her phone to check the time and didn’t realize they had slowed down.
“It’s disappointing to know how many accidents are preventable,” Payton said.
Because of her head injury, Lilly was scared and confused, and Anderson said he wouldn’t have considered anything else but to help her through the situation.
“I just sat there and we had a conversation,” Anderson said. Anderson said that they talked about everything, from her favorite car, to what her travel plans were now that she no longer had a car.
“Her name is Ms. Judy,” he said. “I’ll probably never forget it.”