LEESBURG, Fla. - Being in the right place at the right time likely meant saving a life for one Leesburg police officer.
Anxiety-inducing video released Wednesday shows the moment Officer Alex Nell stopped a runaway car just as its back tires were about to run over a 75-year-old woman who had fallen helpless on the ground.
Nell was in his patrol car at a gas station on U.S. Highway 441 Sunday morning when he saw a white car that had been parked next to him was reversing without anyone at the wheel.
"(I) happened to be in the right place at the right time," Nell said.
Behind the out-of-control vehicle was 75-year-old Bobbie Reese, who was desperately trying to get it to stop.
Reese said she was trying to stop the car from hitting a fuel pump.
"I didn't want a fuel pump to blow up at that gas station," she said. "When the car started rolling backwards, I just started screaming, 'Help me! Somebody help me!'"
The force proved to be too much and Reese fell to the ground, landing dangerously close to the back tires.
"I saw the undercarriage of the car," Reese said.
When Nell realized what was happening he sprung into action, throwing his body weight against the Ford's rear. He brought the vehicle to a halt before Reese could be crushed.
Nell yanked Reese from behind the tire while still bracing the hatchback to keep it still. Once Reese was safe, he put the parking brake in place and helped the elderly woman.
"Had that officer not been there, the left rear wheel was just inches from my skull, and I wouldn't be talking to you," Reese said.
Records show Reese suffered a head injury and other superficial wounds as a result of the fall. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment. At about the same time, her husband had to be air lifted from the couple's home to Orlando Regional Medical Center after suffering a massive heart attack.
Reese's husband, Al, was released from the hospital Tuesday night.
Capt. Joe Iozzi applauded Nell's heroism.
"We are extremely grateful for Officer Nell’s lifesaving efforts on Sunday, and continue to keep the Reese family in our prayers. If not for Officer Nell’s swift actions, the outcome may have been much different, even tragic," Iozzi said.
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