HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - A Miami teen who was trapped underneath a crashed car after it barreled into a bus bench in Miami Gardens last month thanked rescuers from his hospital bed on Thursday.
Eric Quinn, 16, nearly died in the crash, but his clear head and the kindness of strangers likely saved his life.
The Krop High School student was waiting for a county bus when a white Nissan came across Northwest 199th Street, toward S.R. 441.
"I turned around and saw the car speed up and hit the back of another car," Quinn said.
According to police, the car then swerved and plowed into the people standing at the bus stop with him.
"There was a lot of screaming -- panicking," Quinn said.
In seconds, the car ran over Quinn, trapping him underneath. He said he knew he had to stay alert and told himself to not give up.
"I was like, 'Somebody, please get this car off me,'" he said.
In seconds, there was a glimmer of hope.
"Then out of nowhere, some guy grabbed a big chunk of grass and it got brighter and I was like, 'Is somebody out there?' And I was like, 'Yes, please help me, get this car off me,'" he said.
David James, a barber who was working across the street, heard the screams. Down the road, brothers Conrad and Austin Hines ran to help. The trio, along with at least five other men, hoisted the white sedan off Quinn.
"And I just kept looking up and saying, 'Thank you, God. Thank you,'" Quinn said.
On Thursday, he was able to thank his heroes for the very first time from his room at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood.
"Thank you all for lifting the car off me. I could have been trapped. And I was this close to giving up," he said.
"I'm very glad he's alive. And I thank God you're alive," James said.
"I'm really happy. Because when I saw him, he really didn't look good at all," said Austin Hines.
"I'm happy that he's in great shape because when we saw him he was -- he was a mess," said Conrad Hines.
Quinn suffered several serious injuries, including a broken femur, crushed pelvis, and burned hand. Memorial Regional trauma surgeon Dr. Seong Lee said the swift action of strangers was critical to helping the teen pull through.
"That was very heroic. And things could have been a lot different. Eric, in general, is very lucky," Lee said.
Mary Smith, 83, died after the crash. Several others were hospitalized. The driver of the white Nissan, 29-year-old Mark Derefaka, will face multiple charges, including vehicular homicide and driving without a valid license.
Quinn said his second chance at life is a gift.
"It really lifts my spirit. Makes me want to get better. Makes me want to go back out. Makes me want to keep moving my legs so I can get walking again," he said.
Quinn said the strength of the other good Samaritans who have not been identified is a blessing.
"And I really do thank you very much," he said.
Copyright 2012 by Post Newsweek. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.