Samaritan helps Fayetteville woman pinned in car

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A man becomes a hero after a woman has a horrific vehicle crash.

Before dealing with a back injury and becoming an apartment leasing consultant, Matt Diehl spent five years as a Lumberton firefighter.

Little did he know instincts would come into play Wednesday night as he traveled home to Lumberton from work in Fayetteville on Interstate 95 South.

"It was just like instinct," Diehl said. "When you're trained as much as I was, especially if you've played it over in your head. It's just natural."

The scenario played in his head became a reality when Diehl saw headlights coming his way about 7 p.m. He was almost home, near Exit 22 in Lumberton.

"All of a sudden I see a car swerve off heading north, swerve off into the middle of the median, heading right towards me," Diehl said.

According to an accident report, the Fayetteville driver was distracted by a tractor-trailer riding alongside her. Diehl's account and the report sketch show she crossed two northbound lanes, driving in front of the 18-wheeler before flipping and becoming entangled in the median cables.

Diehl, 31, pulled over on the highway shoulder, called 911 and ran 1/10th of a mile to get to the victim.

"Her passenger side doors were both jammed shut," Diehl said. "The only way to get her out was the driver's side."

To do that, Diehl pried the cables toward him, giving the woman just enough space to squeeze out of her driver's side.

"My adrenaline was definitely pumping cause that cable ... I mean it was hard to move," he said.

To prevent a possible fuel explosion, Diehl said he also pried the back door open to reach in the sedan and get the keys out of the ignition and grab the woman's purse.

The victim walked away from the accident with minor injuries and $10,000 worth of damage to her car. She didn't wish to be identified for this story, but thanked Diehl and took his contact information from the scene.

"(I'm) just glad that she's OK and hope she's doing well," Diehl said. "And if she wants, I did give her my phone number and she can reach out to me if she would like."

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