The Grass Valley woman who was plucked from her burning car after she crashed into a big rig knows she owes her life to her rescuer, even though she has no memory of that entire day.
“I’m just glad he didn’t panic,” Amy Stapleton-Horn said of Scott Teuscher, a Federal Express delivery driver who came on the scene to find both vehicles in flames.
“He could have lost his life; he was standing in diesel. It was 30 seconds past when he pulled me out, that my car burned up … I’d be dead if it wasn’t for him.”
Stapleton-Horn was injured on July 12, 2012, when her 1992 Honda Civic hit a big rig being driven on Highway 20 by Penn Valley resident Bill Brown.
Teuscher, 35, of Roseville, was filling in for another driver when he made his last delivery in Rough and Ready that afternoon. He took Highway 20 because it’s faster, he told The Union at the time.
Both Brown’s tractor and Stapleton-Horn’s sedan were burning when Teuscher arrived. Diesel fuel was spilling onto the asphalt, Brown was standing by the side of the road and bystanders looked on in shock. Teuscher said he looked in the back seat of the Honda, then in the front, and saw Stapleton-Horn on the driver side, laying across the passenger seat. But the woman was unresponsive to Teuscher’s pleas, he said.
“I opened the door, unbuckled her seat belt, pulled her out and carried her across the road,” Teuscher said, adding that a second man helped carry her further from the wreck.
“As soon as we set her down is when the big rig exploded,” Teuscher said, describing the scene as “a huge fireball … Debris from the car flew everywhere.”
It was just human nature to go to Stapleton-Horn’s aid, Teuscher said, adding, “I couldn’t go on with life knowing somebody was left in there to die.”
Teuscher’s heroics will be recognized Saturday night when he is presented with a Public Safety Commitment Award by the Nevada County Law Enforcement and Fire Protection Council at its annual Red Light Ball.
Teuscher and his wife will be on hand for the ball, and will be seated with Stapleton-Horn, her husband, and her mother, Elaine Stapleton.
“He’s a neat guy,” Stapleton-Horn said.”I’m forever in debt to him. I told him I wanted to stay close to him — he’s my hero.”
And that’s precisely why Teuscher was selected for this year’s award, said council founder Bill Drown.
“The number of citizens who can say they have literally saved a life is a very elite group,” Drown said.
The ball, now in its 14th year, is one of two annual fundraisers for the organization, along with the Guns & Hoses golf tournament; the two events have raised an estimated $650,000 to purchase much-needed police and firefighting equipment for area agencies. Drown said the council expects close to 500 people to attend the fundraising dinner and dance, adding that people can still call today for reservations.
This year, the council spent more than $50,000 on “all kinds of equipment,” Drown said.
The monies spent included purchasing four new Tasers and go-bags for every officer in the Grass Valley Police Department, helping to buy a mobile command center trailer for Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team, and funds to update mapping for area fire agencies and to coordinate radio frequencies for area law enforcement.
At the time of the donation to Grass Valley Police, Sgt. Steve Johnson thanked the council board members for the donated items, telling them, “Sometimes it’s the little things … The morale boost was incredible. You got a lot of bang for your buck.”
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
“He could have lost his life … I’d be dead if it wasn’t for him.”
— Amy Stapleton-Horn on Scott Teuscher, a Federal Express delivery driver