Not all heroes wear capes

Video Credit: NBC New York

I am a wife and mother of two daughters and live in Livingston, New Jersey. On May 15, I had a traumatic experience that changed my life. With some luck – and most importantly, the help of a stranger – my story has a happy ending.

It was a sunny day, but there were reports of storms approaching. I decided to run some errands before the weather turned.

At 4:45 p.m., I was leaving the grocery store when a violent storm hit. As I turned onto a main road, a tree snapped and started to fall.  I didn’t have time to stop, so I just sped up hoping for the best. I could hear the branches falling on my car and I could feel my wheels driving over them. I then noticed that the tree brought the power line down with it. I’ve always been taught to stay away from power lines, so when I noticed the power line on the ground in front of me, I knew driving over it was not a smart idea. Unfortunately, the power line had become wedged between my passenger-side view mirror and car door.

Lauren Feldman and PSE&G Service Technician Vaughn Stanziale

When I stopped the car, my first instinct was to get out. I knew I shouldn’t be that close to a power line. When I opened my car door, I saw PSE&G Service Technician Vaughn Stanziale, who stopped to help. He told me to stay in my car and close the door. I don’t know why I listened to him, but I did. There was something about him that made me feel he knew what he was doing.

As I went to close my door, a huge gust of wind blew it open. My original plan had been to jump as far away from my car as possible, but there was no way I would have been able to make it with strong wind gusts. Vaughn truly saved my life.

At the time of the incident, I didn’t know electricity was flowing from the power lines through my car or that the ground around me was electrified. I also didn’t know my car was the safest place to be. Thankfully, Vaughn knew this and was there to look out for me.

I’ll never forget looking out of my car window and seeing the “PSE&G man” and thinking, “He stayed. I am so happy he stayed.” I felt so alone when I was trapped in my car. I wasn’t sure what to do. I had so many questions and so much uncertainty. Vaughn helped ease my mind.

I was so relieved when other PSE&G employees arrived, de-energized the line and removed it from my car. I finally felt safe. I am so thankful for Vaughn, PSE&G, and the Livingston Police and Fire Departments for coming to my rescue.

It’s so important to know what to do if a power line falls on or near your car. I knew power lines were dangerous and to stay away from them, but I didn’t know the ways to stay safe. I never thought this would happen to me, but it did, and it can happen to anyone!

I hope sharing my story may help save another life.

Downed wire safety:

  • Downed wires should always be considered “live.”
  • Never go near or touch an electrical wire or go near or touch anything or anyone that has come in contact with an electrical wire.
  • Stay at least 300 feet away from all downed wires – and keep others from going near them.
  • Call your local utility company or the police or fire department immediately to report a downed wire.
  • Do not drive over a downed wire.
  • If a wire falls on or near your car, stay inside the car, call 911, and do not get out until the line is de-energized.
  • If you MUST get out of the vehicle because it is on fire, jump as far as possible away from the vehicle, with both feet landing on the ground at the same time, and hop or shuffle away.

Lauren Feldman - Livingston, NJ


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