WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A traffic stop became a matter of life and death for a New Jersey woman and her unborn child recently when her car caught on fire.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman introduced the woman to the man she calls her guardian angel.
Jennifer Larson of Keasburg was not having a good day.
“My car was kind of chugging and lagging behind,” she said.
It was a couple of Sundays ago when Larson was having car trouble while going over the Driscoll Bridge on the Garden State Parkway. But she kept driving.
“I look in my rearview mirror and there is an undercover police officer behind me with his lights on,” Larson said. “Great, now I’m getting pulled over.”
Hudson County Detective Guershon Cherilien was driving home on the same stretch when he saw her car ahead.
“A significant amount of fire in the undercarriage,” Cherilien said. “She didn’t realize it.”
“He comes running up to the window and says: ‘Your car’s on fire! Get out!’” Larson said.
Larson immediately burst into tears. She is six months pregnant and says she probably would have stayed in that car until it was too late.
“When the fire department got there, they couldn’t actually open the doors,” Larson said. “So I don’t know if I would’ve been trapped in that car. I try not to think about it, because thinking about it very overwhelming.”
Detective Cherilien stayed and kept Larson calm until her family picked her up.
“He said, ‘Yeah, I’m on my way back from church,’ and I’m like, well literally, ‘Thank God,’” Larson said.
They parted ways. But the expectant mother never truly got a chance to say thank you.
Bauman: “What would you say to him if you saw him?”
Larson: “Just thank you so much. You saved my life. You saved my baby’s life, and I literally can never repay you for what you’ve done.”
Bauman directed Larson to turn around — and when she did, there was Detective Cherilien himself. She cried as they embraced.
“Oh my God, thank you so much!” Larson said.
“She’s going to make me cry!” Cherilien said.
And this time, it was tears of joy all around.