Saving Jeremy's Life

by, Sarah Norton // Nov 22, 2022

This is how I wrote out my experience 12 years ago on my family blog. It's my favorite miracle and I want to share it with you all today becuase, although I had no idea at the time, MY LIFE was saved on the day we saved Jeremy's life too!

.... My 15 year old son, Rustin, and I were blessed to be at the right place at the right time to help save an unconscious man from a burning car on Saturday evening, March 26, 2011 at around 5:00 pm. Rustin was driving (just got his permit) and we were headed to his friends house for a lacrosse team party. As soon as we turned from our street to the main street (Juniper) that runs through our neighborhood we saw a white Volov parked on the side of the road with a lot of white smoke coming from the hood and pouring over the car. 

Another person (Michael Harrison, whose family I know) had already stopped and discovered that there was an unconcsious person slumped behind the steering wheel inside the car. Rustin immediately pulled over and ran to help Michael pull the man out of the burning car (he did have to show me how to dial 911 and hit send on his weird new flip phone really quick first)! The call would not go through because all the lines were busy that day and so after seeing another vehicle pull up, I motioned for them to call 911 again and I ran to help Rustin and Michael. Michael had already unbuckled the driver and then they both pulled him out of thet car and onto the ground. He was lying right there on the street and we needed to get him further from the car so we awkardly grabbed at his clothing, belt loops, anything we could get a grip on, and lifted then half dragged, half carried him back behind the car. He was a very heavy (220 lbs) man and extremely difficult to move because he was totally unconsious and his body was totally floppy. Rustin said later that he was really glad he'd been in weightlifting class at school. 


Look how much bigger Jeremy (220 lbs) is than Rustin who is 5'10" and 150 lbs. The other rescuer was taller than Rustin but much skinnier and was happy to have Rustin's muscles there to help!

We didn't stay there long because we were getting covered with smoke that was increasing in volume rapidly and had turned black as the whole car started to really catch fire. We hefted poor Jeremy again (who was still totally out) and carried him to the other side of the road in the bike lane. We laid him there and rested a bit. His eyes began to open little bit but he couldn't move or speak and looked really sick. I had no idea what was wrong with him, if he had inhaled enough smoke to pass out or had passed out before the car caught fire or what, but I was very concerned and just rubbed his head and told him everything was going to be okay and prayed and prayed and prayed that it would be. He was a stranger but I loved him and I wanted him to live so badly! After a bit, we decided to move him because the fire department was still not there and the fire was getting really big and hot and I could hear things exploding and popping inside the car and I thought it might blow up, like in the movies!

Fortunately, the car never blew up but it left a lot of ashes and debri behind after they towed it!

When Rustin and Mike and I (and a few others who had gathered) moved him further down the road, he was starting to wake up and was actually moving his feet a little for us. As he started becoming more aware, he became anxious and tried to walk away from us, though he couldn't really walk and he had no idea what was going on. There was no way we were going to let this very sick individual wander off before the ambulance got there so we tried to wrestle him to the ground. It didn't work. As you can see from the picture, he is a very big and VERY strong guy. We all tried to calm him down and keep him around while we waited for the fire trucks to arrive. Poor Jeremy kept looking at me and saying “Please help me! Please help me!” He had no idea what was going on, why his car was on fire and why we wouldn’t let him leave. It was heartbreaking. Mesa Police and fire finally got there (instead of Gilbert who were very busy with a tragic drowning that day).

Somehow, they had only heard that there was a car fire but not a victim in the car, so at first they just worked on getting the car fire under control until a paramedic finally noticed us frantically waving at them to come help Jeremy. We told them what was going on and they soon found out how strong Jeremy was. It took several police officers and firemen to finally tackle Jeremy into the bushes and get some handcuffs on him to keep him down. Poor guy!!!! He kept asking for someone to help him and saying "Ow!" I felt so bad and just stayed close to try and offer any comfort I could. 

After a while they got him some tranquilizers to sedate him a little and then got him onto a stretcher. As he calmed down, he was more responsive and told them his name was Jeremy and that he suffered from seizures. 

Rustin and I stayed and gave a statement to the police and gave them my number and asked them to call and let me know how Jeremy was doing and if they ever figure out just what had happened. They said they would try, but might not even know themselves. 

After Jeremy was safely on his way to the hospital, I took Rustin to his friend's house and then zoomed home for a quick shower and some clothes (By the way- all of this was happening as I was wearing only a swimsuit and a sweatshirt! Put on clothes before you leave the house! You never know what might happen!!!) Then I took off for a special meeting and dinner at my church that I was late for!  

About 45 min. after I got there, my husband (at the time) texted me the most amazing text 

"The kid whose car burned was Kami Tilby's son!" 

I can't explain the emotion to know that poor Jeremy, who I had been praying over, was the son of one of my most favorite friends in the entire world (and she also happens to be my Relief Society president -church leader- and close neighbor!) She has helped me in so many ways through every step of the last few insane and very difficult months of my life, starting before my sister Liza died, but especially since then. To have been able to help save her son's life and bless hers forever in a very real way is such an honor. I am so grateful that Rustin and I were there to help him and her and her precious family!

So on Sunday night (the next night) Rustin and I got to meet our Jeremy!!!!

It turns out that Jeremy does indeed suffer from seizures and takes medication to control them. He had missed two days of medication and had just refilled his prescription and then visited his parents who live just a few houses from me. As left their house, headed for home, and rounded the corner to Juniper St. he felt the aura of a seizure coming on and knew he had to pull over and put the car into park. It took his body about 100 yards to be able to do that and he stopped about 20 yards before the main intersection at Val Vista! Phew!!!


Then during his seizure and it is believed that he must have accidentally pushed down on the gas pedal and revved the engine so high that it overheated and caught fire. Sometime after that we arrived on scene.

He doesn't remember being pulled from the car or being carried around but does vaguely remember the struggle on the ground with the police, and asking for help. He says it is foggy like a dream. Then he "woke up" in the hospital, not really sure why he was there and why he had grass (which was actually dead leaves from one of the bushes the police tackled him into) all over him.

He was so sweet when he met Rustin and I, reaching out for big bear hugs and saying "Thank you, Thank you!" 

You are so welcome Jeremy!!! 

So glad we could feel what it feels like to be an angel and be part of a miracle. That same day, Saturday, was the two month anniversary of my 21 year old sister, Liza's, death and I had cried quite a few tears just a few hours before this happened. It was so nice to have things turn around and get to be part of such a happy ending for such a great person and family

Maybe Liza was there helping too! 

Maybe we were both angels that day?!

-------- To be continued 12 years later with Jeremy's side of the story and how his life has changed since then!