Friday, June 17, 2005

A True Hero: Jose LeGrand

OK, I can't say much about this because I start to cry.

This guy, Jose LeGrand, his wife and two kids are driving the Pulaski Skyway, in New Jersey. He notices a car ahead driving erratically. As he passes to get away from the situation, he sees only a little girl strapped into the passenger seat, and the car speeding out of control. Something has happened to the driver and the little girl is screaming. He pulls in front of it, risks the lives of his family, allows the runaway car to ram him, and brings the car to a stop. He gets out of his car to put the runaway car in park but a bus is barreling down on him. He jumps back in his car and speeds away. The runaway car, unnavigated, follows behind as the bus swerves and misses them all by ten feet. A second time he allows the runaway car to plow into his rear-end and he gets out and puts that car in park. The police arrive and everybody is saved.

Jose LeGrand deserves a medal and a new home and a trip around the world and a gazillion dollars.

Here is a man who deserves all the best in life!

He's a hero!

Skyway Hero Tells His Tale
(reprinted here without permission)
On the Pulaski Skyway, a hero was born on Memorial Day as a speeding, out-of-control car carried an 8-year-old girl to nearly certain death.

"Alright, my name is Peter Oliver. I work...1 and 9 North, Pulaski Skyway, it's a Mercedes Benz, he over, he keeps riding against the walls," Oliver said on his call to 911.

Joseph Balagot, 43, of Union, was dying of a heart attack. His 8-year-old daughter, Reiko, was frantic in the front passenger seat, and their car was barreling northbound up the Skyway at speeds approaching 55 miles an hour.

Trailing behind was New Yorker Jose LeGrand and his wife Maria with their children, thinking they were following a drunk driver.

"I told her I'm going to try to get around the car in case he does crash. As I'm pulling alongside parallel to him, that's when I noticed a 7- or 8-year-old girl in the passenger seat strapped in, screaming frantically with a cell phone," LeGrand said.

That would be Reiko, being brought to her mother's home in Jersey City after a weekend with her father.

Maria also phoned 911.

"I was hysterical. I was saying, 'Please, get someone here quick. There's a little girl in the car and I think she's going to be hit by a car,' and I was crying and I said, 'Please, hurry up, hurry up,'" Maria said.

Then Jose did something that most likely saved little Reiko's life. He pulled ahead with his two children inside.

"I'm about five or six cars in front of him, and that's when it dawned on me. We basically got a runaway car with a little girl in it, and that's when it kind of hit me and I said, 'My God, what is this little girl going to do with the vehicle now?' And that's when I told my wife we're going to have to try to stop this vehicle," Jose said.

LeGrand told his family to hang on, and in a split second, he used his 1995 Ford Expedition to stop a Mercedes Benz, letting it hit his rear bumper.

"I basically, as soon as I let him hit me in the back, I threw my car into neutral and let him push for a couple of seconds, then I threw my car into low and slowly braked my vehicle until we came to a complete stop," LeGrand said.

Then he told 911 the following: "There's a disabled car, a man just had a heart attack. There's a little girl in the car, there's traffic everywhere. I had to get in front of him to slow him down. I've got to get a cop car. I've got to get an ambulance."

"Calm down, we'll get you everything you need," the 911 operator replied.

"I'm afraid they're going to plow into him, and he has a little girl in the front," LeGrand told the operator.

They had just come around a big bend on the Pulaski Skyway, successfully stopping a speeding car, but now they worried about being rear-ended by other traffic.

Still, LeGrand jumped out to find out what had really happened.

"At that moment, my wife screams out there's a bus coming behind us doing probably 70 miles an hour in our lane," LeGrand said. "I turned around and said, 'Oh my God, the bus is coming."

"At that point, my main concern now was to get my vehicle out of the way with my family," Maria LeGrand said. "So, I immediately ran inside the truck and Jose was running alongside and he said, 'Maria, I'm going to move the car.'"

"I ran back to my car, threw my car into drive and floored it as much as I could," Jose LeGrand said, and said he was thinking, 'Oh my God, we're going to die.'"

"At that point, my wife is still looking out the back of our truck and screaming, 'We're not going to make it, that the bus is definitely going to plow into all of us.' I just closed my eyes and then the next thing the bus moved," LeGrand said.

"At the last second, all I remember was seeing this blur go past me in the right lane. It missed us by almost 10, 15 feet at the most," Maria said.

LeGrand had never been able to put the damaged car in park the first time, so as he got out of his SUV after his narrow escape with that speeding bus, they faced death again.

"I turn back and I yell to my wife, 'My God, the car is coming at us again,' because I never got a chance to put the car into park. I jump into the truck, threw it back in drive, and basically had to let him hit me all over again," LeGrand said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he saved a girl's life. Without his action, she probably would have perished on the Skyway," Maria LeGrand said.

Kearny police officer Leroy Bibbs was the first uniformed officer to arrive on the scene, preceded by off-duty Jersey City cops, all in awe of LeGrand, a hospital executive who lives in Inwood and works in Brooklyn.

The damage to his bumper was minimal, and a hitching post stopped the smaller car.

So what would possess LeGrand to risk his family to save another?

"I think one of the reasons that I did that was due to the fact that I had my kids in the car, and seeing that poor girl in the other vehicle with no one steering the car at 55 miles an hour, I just couldn't let that car continue to go on like that," LeGrand said.

The Skyway is not a road to be taken lightly, according to Bibbs.

"I think it's one of the most dangerous roads in New Jersey, if not the country," Bibbs said. "I never go on the skyway unless I have to."

And how does a six-year-old girl see her father and mother after a harrowing ride on this most dangerous of roads?

She described her dad in one word: "Hero."

Hero On The Skyway Tells His Tale to

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1 comment:

Alexis said...

Hello, i am the daughter of Jose Le Grand, i was searching Jose Le Grand and found this blog. So i decided to leave i comment saying im am the daughter of Jose Le Grand, the hero.