DENVER — A 17-year-old says a chance encounter with a Colorado State Patrol Trooper, along I-70 last Thursday, proved to be the difference between life and death.
The teen just narrowly avoiding being hit by the semi—that killed four people.
Isabel Witter met with FOX31, near the crash site, 4 days after the wreck.
“It surprisingly doesn’t look like much happened,” she said, looking at the stretch of I-70 that was paved last week.
But Witter will never forget what she witnessed there.
“My mind is on it 24/7, just playing it over and over and over,” she said.
Her car broke down last Thursday, right under the bridge on eastbound I-70.
By complete chance, CSP trooper Joshua Furman was just several cars behind her.
Furman is based in Limon, but happened to be in town for annual Academy training.
“He pulled up and asked me to put my car in neutral and pushed me into the shoulder behind where the mattress semi truck was,” Witter recalled.
Trooper Furman continued on. Minutes later, tragedy struck—just feet away from Witter.
“I heard it hit the cars and then saw all the fire, and heard the explosion. I was still on the phone with my mom, who thought she was listening to her daughter die,” Witter told FOX31.
Trooper Furman feared the worst, too, unsure whether Witter had survived the fiery wreck.
“The fire department—when they showed up on scene. The guys that were there, I asked if they had seen her. And nobody had seen her at that point,” Furman said during a phone interview Monday.
On Saturday, he got his answer from Witter herself.
“Actually hearing from her—that’s a pretty big rarity in my line of work hearing that she was okay. I don’t know how to explain those emotions.”
“It means so much to me that I was able to contact him and tell him how grateful I am that I’m okay and that he’s the reason for that,” said Witter.
But along with feeling grateful, Witter says she also feels guilty.
“It was only five or six feet between life and death and I happened to be in the right shoulder and someone happened to be in that right lane. It breaks my heart and I don’t know how to deal with it.”
She says the guilt grew stronger overnight, after learning more about the 4 victims.
“Hearing their names—it’s really hard. Those were people who had lives, and had friends, and had family—they’re going to be missed every day.”
Witter says it will take some time to understand why she survived and others didn’t, but plans to make the most of this second chance.
“I don’t feel as if I deserve to live more than any other person. All I know is that I did and so I’m grateful.”