HAHNVILLE, La. - A family is praising the actions of a complete stranger for helping rescue their loved one after a car crash. It happened July 20th on Highway 3127 near the DOW Chemical Company. Eyewitness News was there as the families had their first emotional meeting.
Theresa Sanders wept tears of joy as she met her teenage daughter Maya's rescuer for the first time.
"He decided to go on in and get her out and he didn't have to do that," she said.
Her husband, Michael, was by her side also grateful for the man standing in front of them.
"We just think about what could've been and we're grateful it didn't happen," he said. "We were actually in the hospital with my father-in-law at the time. Maya was on the way to pick me up from the hospital to go back home."
Something was in the road, trying to avoid it, Maya lost control of her car and drove into the swamp. The car rolled and she couldn't get out.
"I was grateful to God that she had somehow gotten out," said Theresa. "I didn't know at the time what the story was."
"I by no means call myself a hero, I think it was the right thing to do," said Ghislain Dadie.
Dadie was driving home when he says he saw the wrecked car, and a crowd gathering around it. After passing by he turned around and went back to help.
"Gravity was causing the car to close back on her," he recalled. "And she pushed and it closed back on her. She was scared and afraid and calling for help."
He says he took his shoes off, waded in the murky water, climbed the car and helped get her out.
"I just went into the swamp you know, knee deep and the water was around my waist," he said. "I carried her on my shoulder and I held her hand and walked her out of the swamp."
After making sure Maya was safe, Dadie left without any expectation. He says he answered a call that was a no brainer.
"I felt a force to go in there and help her," he said.
However, Maya's parents say his actions are that of someone special. Someone who they say will always hold a place in their hearts.
"It's wonderful, it's like meeting an angel," said Michael.
The reunion brought the two families together as one. For someone like Dadie, who's originally from the Ivory Coast of Africa and has family far away, that meant the world.
"Being here by myself and having my wife as family, that was the most heartfelt feeling for me when they said from now on you're part of the Sanders family," he said. "I was very emotional, this is definitely a beautiful thing."
Maya, who wasn't seriously hurt couldn't make it. Her mother though says her daughter is forever thankful Dadie was in the right place at the right time and thankful their paths crossed. Dadie says there were others out there that night helping as well, and they all deserve a shout out.
Jade Cunningham can be reached at email@example.com.