Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Houston Councilwoman Jones Helps Rescue Driver From Fiery Crash
TransGriot Note: I wrote a post about my fellow Cougar back in December 2007 when she won her at-large seat on City Council. Check out what she's been up to since then.
By JENNIFER LATSON
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Aug. 17, 2008, 11:01PM
The sparks from the highway looked like fireworks, but Jolanda Jones' teenage son saw what caused them: a car vaulting off the elevated stretch of Westpark Tollway before crashing about 100 feet below.
Jones followed the billowing smoke to where the car rested against a fence in the Hillcroft Transit Center.
Flames engulfed its front end.
"I think, 'Oh my God, someone's dead,' " Jones said.
The Houston City Council member and two other Good Samaritans happened to see the crash just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Together, they pulled the driver from the mangled, fiery wreckage.
Jones and a friend had just picked up her son from a country-western concert and were headed toward Wal-Mart on a Westpark feeder road when they saw the car leap off the tollway near U.S. 59. They stopped their car, called 911 and followed the smoke.
"We just ran," said Jones, 42, a former track and field star at the University of Houston.
She didn't expect to see anyone alive. But when she neared the car, she saw movement.
Then she heard a woman screaming.
Jones and the two men, all of them strangers to each other, tried to pry the woman out, but she was pinned by the steering wheel inside the crumpled car.
Time was running out.
"The window was melting," Jones said. "The fire was coming in."
Finally, Jones leaned in through the back passenger window and put her weight on the driver's seat.
The woman slipped free, and the trio lifted her out the window.
Her leg was clearly broken; the protruding bone was visible, stretching the skin. Blood trickled from her mouth.
Jones carried her to a curb and sat down, cradling her in her arms, she said.
"I didn't know if she was going to live or die," she said. "I didn't want to put her on the ground."
Jones spoke to her briefly and learned her first name. The dark-haired woman was about 25, Jones guessed.
The woman screamed until police and firefighters arrived and whisked her away in an ambulance.
It was the second time this month that Jones has crossed paths with police at a scene.
On Aug. 1, she happened upon an arrest in progress outside a Third Ward gas station. She approached police and said she had concerns that the suspect, wanted on charges of marijuana possession, was being mistreated. The officers accused her of interfering with an arrest.
This time, she said, one officer expressed gratitude.
"He said, 'You saved her life,' " she recalled Sunday afternoon.
But, she said, he told her the woman might have suffered massive internal injuries from the 100-foot fall.
Houston police Capt. Bruce Williams declined to comment Sunday on the specifics of the accident.
Jones said anxiety kept her awake all night. She went to the Ben Taub Hospital emergency room Sunday morning to check on the woman.
She could only tell them the woman's first name and the details of the crash. They knew who she meant.
"They said, 'Yes, ma'am. She's alive.' "