January 25, 2014: The car Matthew Perez and his daughter were rescued from, perched above Pennypack Creek.
Matthew Perez says his mind won't really be at ease until he finds the mystery man and woman who helped rescue his two-year-old daughter from his car after it slid halfway down an embankment, landed on the edge of a boulder, and began teetering above Pennypack Creek during the minor snowfall this weekend.
Perez, 26, says the snow was just getting heavy as he drove downhill on Ryan Avenue, headed towards Lincoln Highway in his Subaru Outback on Saturday afternoon. His daughter Victoria was strapped into her car seat in the back of the car. The next thing Matthew remembers was hearing a loud snapping noise. He believes it was his brake line, rupturing.
"I went to go apply my brakes and I think I heard my brakes snapping. And the whole car started spinning out at the back. I spun into oncoming traffic around the car in front of me," Perez said.
"I hit the curb and I went up on the pavement where the grass and stuff was. When I tried to gain more control of the car, I was sliding on ice down the hill. In a split second it [the car] hit a tree on the side where my daughter was at and it slid down about five feet from Pennypack Creek. A boulder was the only thing holding me and my daughter from falling into the water."
Perez says moments after the accident, as he climbed out of his window and over the car in a struggle to get his daughter out of her car seat, a man appeared and offered to help carry Victoria up the hill to safety. When Matthew and the stranger made it safely to the top of the hill with his daughter, a young woman -- a nurse, as she told Matthew -- walked over and began tending to Victoria whose head was bleeding from the impact.
According to Perez, the two Good Samaritans stayed at the scene for the few minutes that it took for an ambulance to arrive, but shortly thereafter, they were nowhere to be found.
"All I know is that they were probably driving behind me. I have no clue who they were," he said.
Karen Perez, Matthew's mother, arrived at the accident scene shortly thereafter. She says, if not for the mystery man and woman, her son and granddaughter may not have survived the crash.
"If these people weren’t there, nobody would’ve seen my Matt go down there because you can’t see down there just driving by. People would’ve been looking and nobody would’ve known they were there," Karen Perez said.
"They saw it happen and they could’ve just kept driving. That guy didn’t have to go in that car and get my granddaughter. If it was another two feet over, the car would’ve had nothing to lean on; he would’ve been in the water in Pennypack Park. There would’ve been no way they would’ve survived."
Matthew's daughter suffered a few cuts on her face and a black eye from the accident but is reportedly healing well. Matthew walked away with only a bruise above his left knee. His injuries were so minor that he was able to return to his job as a driver for Customized Community Transportation (CCT) paratransit service, after only one day of recovery.
Matthew says now he just wants to find and thank the man and woman who helped rescue he and his daughter.
"The only thing that bothers me now is that I don’t know who the people were. He didn’t need to risk his life but he did it anyway and I would just love to meet him and just say thank you for his help and to acknowledge it," Perez said.
"It’s good to know that good people are still out there."