Raymond Williams, 49-year-old father of six and a janitor by trade, saw a woman pushed from a car about 3 a.m. Saturday, stopped to help and was hit by another car.
Today, Williams is in the intensive care unit at Washington Hospital Center.
His right leg was amputated just below the knee and his life is in disarray for having been the good Samaritan.
When Williams awoke after surgery on Saturday, family members were there to console him.
"He said, 'You know, this could have been worse,'" his wife, Cynthia, said yesterday. "'I can deal with this.' His spirit is a lot better than I thought it would be," she said.
"I don't understand how it happened to him," said Cynthia Williams. I wasn't surprised that he was helping somebody. But why did it happen?
"He's a very active person," she said. "He's always going. I don't think the impact [of the accident] has really hit him yet.
"You can usually find hm helping somebody," she said yesterday as she stood in the front yard of their home at 7105 E. Inwood St. in Kentland, Prince George's County. Williams' green and white Pontiac was in front of the house. The trunk was bashed in.
It all began about 3 a.m. Saturday on New York Avenue near M Street in Northwest Washington.
Williams was driving east on New York Avenue on his way home after dropping his nephew off in the city.
When he saw the woman thrown out of the car in front of him, Williams stopped to help. The other car sped away.
Williams offered to give the woman a ride home. He helped her to her feet and into his car, closed the door and walked to the rear of his car.
Suddenly a 1975 silver Mustang rammed into the back of Williams' car, pinning his right leg between the two bumpers. The Mustang then slid to the right, throwing Williams onto the median strip.
It isn't clear who called for help, but Officer Ronald Schroeder of the D.C. Police Department's traffic division was one of the first people to arrvie at the scene. "His leg was broken so many places," Schroeder said "you didn't have to have a doctor to realize that it was going to be amputed."
When an ambulance arrived, the attendants carefully wrapped Williams' leg and rushed him to the hospital.
Loretta Dawkins, the woman who was thrown from the car, said, "It just hurts to have this happen. I've been depressed ever since it happened. To think that somebody that nice was helping me and he ends up getting hurt. I hate this to happen to him. It could have been me."
"I just hope he doesn't have any animosity toward me," she said yesterday from her bed at home, where she is nursing a bruised nose. "He might say, 'Look, I was trying to help you and look what happened to me.'"
Dawkins, 46, said she was riding with two men in a car ahead of Williams after leaving a party in Northeast Washington. The men, whom she described as casual friends, were supposed to be taking her to her home in Northwest Washington.
Dawkins said the two men told her to get out of the car. When she refused, they pushed her out the front seat on the passenger side onto the pavement.
"I was in shock," Dawkins said. "I was trying to get up [off the street]. All of a sudden, he [Williams] asked if he could help me. I didn't think I was hurt. He helped me to his car. [Then] he got hit."
Police identified the driver of the Mustang as Edward Gardner III, 29, and said he gave an Arlington address. However, the residents of the single-family house at that address said yesterday they had never heard of Gardner.
Dawkins said she fot out of Williams' car to find him sprawling on the ground.
"It seems like everybody blames me," Dawkins said yesterday, "One woman [near the accident scene] said I was the cause of him getting hurt. . . .I couldn't help it. I felt so cold. . . .I did have enough courage to go to the hospital."
Dawkins said she took a cab to the hospital after the accident so she could see Williams, but was unable to see him because he was in surgery.
Williams, who works as a janitor for the Montgomery County school system, was resting comfortably yesterday, his wife said. He is listed in satisfactory condition.
When told about how Williams was hurt, one of Williams' neighbors said, "It's just the type of thing he would do," he said.
Milton Wooten, another neighbor who lives across from the Williams home, said Williams had recently helped him fix the brakes on his car. "He's a friendly person," Wooten said.
Cynthia Williams said her husband likes to work on cars. He also plays the guitar, organ and saxophone and used to play in a local band.
Police said that Gardner, the driver, of the car that hit Williams, was charged with failing to give full time and attention to driving.