A Hernando County mom is thankful to be alive and credits a Florida Highway Patrol trooper for saving her.
She was strangled by her seat belt scrambling to get her 3-year-old daughter back in her car seat.
The freak accident unfolded as the family had been heading home to Brooksville driving north on the Suncoast Parkway on Thursday night after Thanksgiving dinner in Palm Harbor.
A fast-thinking trooper with a knife came to the mother's rescue.
"I was like struggling so much, because I was panicking. I just wanted it off my neck," says the 37-year-old Brooksville mother who doesn't want to be identified.
Her husband had been behind the wheel. Their daughter in the back seat slipped out of her car seat. In the battle to get her little girl secured, the mother got entangled in the seat belt.
"Maybe I pull down a little bit. I didn't realize the whole thing was wrapped around it. I was just once around my neck. I turned around to put her back in it (the car seat), so he wouldn't have to pull over and this thing it was just stuck," the mother says.
The seat belt locked up. Her husband pulled over and raced around the Toyota Scion to help.
"He's pulling on it, but this thing would not give. I was panicking, and it kept getting tighter. Then, that was it. At that point, it just got so bad. I blacked out at that point," says the mother.
Her husband tried to wave down help. One car after another passed by. Finally, Trooper Brad Wagner stopped. It was the moment that saved the mom's life.
"Honestly, if he hadn't pulled over and helped my husband, I probably wouldn't be sitting here right now," the mother says.
Wagner grabbed a knife and cut the seat belt freeing it from her neck. She regained consciousness with a new appreciation for Thanksgiving.
"Thank you! Because he just saved my life. I will always be thankful for that," says the mother.
FHP says this is the second life Wagner has saved this fall. FHP praises his actions in a release saying:
"This incident follows a September 18th traffic crash in which Trooper Wagner was nearby and responded quickly to a traffic crash on SR-589 near Waters Avenue. During this incident Trooper Wagner found an unconscious driver who had been ejected onto the roadway; Wagner responded quickly by providing CPR which eventually saved that motorist as well.
"The FHP expresses great appreciation for Trooper Wagner's efforts which is reflective of the vital and important work State Troopers do each and every day."