Car accident victim reunites with his rescuers, thanks them for their service

(WHAM photo)

There was a reunion Tuesday for a victim of a serious car accident - giving him a chance to thank the first responders who saved him.

The crash should have left Daniel Nilsen paralyzed. It happened on a cold night in January 2015. He nearly died when his vehicle went over a guardrail on 390, disappearing out of sight.

Nilsen was stuck in his car, in frigid temperatures, for hours.

“My thought was, this was it,'” Nilsen said. “I was shivering uncontrollably. It was very surreal.”

A passer-by saw his car, and called 911.

“Firefighters were getting their ax out and breaking the windows,” Nilsen recalled. “They were just so compassionate. They're trying to pour out compassion to you and help you.”

“They see how terrified I am, and they can sense it. That part of them kicks in,” he continued. “There's not a day that goes by you don't think about it.”

Doctors told him he might never walk again. But not only is he walking - the first responders who saved him inspired him to change his life purpose. He would go on to become a public safety dispatcher in Monroe County.

Nilsen walked the halls of the Brighton Volunteer Ambulance on Tuesday, grateful for each step.

In a crowded room of first responders, Nilsen said thank you to the men and women that saved his life.

“Together with my family, my two daughters, my grandson, and we just want to say thank you," he said. "It doesn't really seem enough. It just doesn't seem enough. From the bottom of our hearts, we salute you. We honor you. And we just say thank you. Thank you so much.”

The first responders say it's very rare they get to see the folks who they save. It was a special day for everyone.

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