ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A long-awaited reunion. KRQE News 13 told you about a woman’s search for the EMT who saved her life and how KRQE viewers helped them reconnect.
Saturday, nearly 18 years since the crash that almost killed her, a survivor met her rescuer.
With their scheduled reunion moments away, Gabby Ferguson’s curiosity got the best of her. She followed one of the reunion’s coordinators down the hall to where Shelly was waiting. Peeking around the corner, the two locked eyes and Gabby waved.
She’s been searching for the woman who saved her. Now, 18 years and a nine hour drive later. The two could barely wait.
Years of searching culminated into a single moment. Even Gabby’s sneak peek couldn’t prepare her for it, or for the embrace between her rescuer and her dad.
“I can’t think of words and I feel like I’m talking just to talk because I don’t know how to explain it,” said Gabby.
It is the first time Gabby and her younger twin brothers have come face to face with the State Police Officer’s wife who came to their aid nearly 20 years ago.
In 1999, they were in a nasty crash on I-40, near Santa Rosa, with their mom and several others. A family friend’s baby died in the crash. Gabby was ejected. She had no pulse until a State Police officer’s wife — Shelly Eiland — gave her CPR and brought her back.
“Words cannot describe how thankful I am because I’ve got to do so much,” Gabby told Eiland.
Thanks to social media and a KRQE viewers, the two reconnected about a month back.
Nothing was going to stand in the way of an in-person meeting.
“I was super excited. I’ve been excited since we set a date,” said Gabby.
For Eiland, not even heartache could stop her.
“My sister died last night. She had cancer and fought it for eight years. But I had to be here today because these people wanted so much to say ‘thank you’ in person and to share what they felt,” said Eiland.
She wanted to be there, not just for Gabby and her family, but for the rare opportunity to see how her work as an EMT makes a difference.
“Those people that you help, these people that you save go on to do good things and help other people,” Eiland explained.
It turns out, this reunion helped Eiland heal, too.
“This has been unbelievable. Just amazing,” she said. “And that Gabby would take the time to do something like that.”
Even though the two had not laid eyes on each other in years, they already share a strong bond that won’t soon be broken.
“I just don’t want to let go,” Gabby told Eiland as the two hugged.
“I’m so glad I got to finally meet you,” said Eiland.
“I’m glad I got to find you,” Gabby said.
State Police Chief Pete Kassetas was there to present Shelly and the other EMT’s who helped Gabby and her family with the department’s “Life Saving Award.”
It was the first time a civilian received it. The others who helped out after the crash couldn’t make it due to weather.
Gabby is studying to be a nurse.