Man saved from fiery crash by homeless heroes

Victim crashed on Freeway ramp
Posted at 6:54 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 23:16:47-04

A Milwaukee man is grateful to be alive, thanks in part to some homeless heroes that rushed to his aid after a crash on a freeway ramp.

Early Saturday morning, Nelson Snyder was heading home to drop his car off for his girlfriend to take to work when things went awry. As Snyder exited on the 25th Street Freeway ramp, he felt the car shake and then woke up in the hospital.

"Like, wow," Snyder said. "What just happened? Where am I?"

From what Snyder was told, one of his rear tires was shredded and he crashed into a telephone pole.

"They had told me I accidentally crashed and that the car had went into flames as well," Snyder said. "Five homeless guys in the area seen it and ran to my rescue. They were brave enough to help me and pull me out. They totally saved my life and gave me a second chance. Knowing they did that to me, I can't repay them enough and more or less say thank you."

Snyder didn't leave the crash unscathed. He had several cracked ribs and a severe hip injury which will require surgery. But he's in surprisingly good spirits.

"It means there are still kind people," Snyder said. "People that care. People that don't care about race, about where you came from or who you are. Hopefully I can go back and shake their hand and tell them thank you. It was only one thing but that one thing changed my life."

Snyder says he's thanking the Karma Gods for bringing him through the situation.

"When I go by people that are in need, I do as much as I can for people," Snyder said. "People ask for spare change, if I have it, I always try and do good for people. Hoping people will do good for me. For all the stuff I've done, them saving my life is worth everything."

Snyder's mother says this is a matter of human decency and hopes people will reach out to help homeless folks because you never know when you could need them.

"It's so basic," said Jan Wilberg. "You see a human need and you respond to it."

Wilberg went to the crash site later Saturday morning and met one of the men who saved her son.

"I hugged him and said we'd find a way to thank him but it's going to take a while to find something good enough," Wilberg said. "I looked this guy in the face and he could be my son. He's about the same age. I don't know what his circumstance was and why he was there but brave and compassion. That's what he was. Compassionate."

Eric Collins with Milwaukee County Housing First program says one of the men involved is getting housing through their program and hoping to find a job once he's housed. He says this act is something that doesn't surprise anyone with Urban Milwaukee. He said in a text message, "Very, very heroic."