That’s what the family of Becky Crawford of Belton on Wednesday expressed to Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Jim Thuss, who had pulled her from her burning car in early February.
“I owe my life to Trooper Thuss,” Crawford said. “The car was literally engulfed in flames within seconds. If he hadn’t been there to pull me out, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Crawford was severely injured in the crash, suffering a broken pelvis and arm as well as two fractures in her spine.
Crawford’s family presented Thuss with a plaque at the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Troop A headquarters in Lee’s Summit. They also gave him a large thank you card in which each family member had written a personal message.
“It’s extremely humbling,” Thuss said. “We don’t do this for recognition like that. I’m grateful for them and absolutely thrilled that Becky has recovered as she has.”
The crash happened the morning of Feb. 2 and was caught on the dashboard camera of Thuss’ patrol car.
Thuss was on Route D just north of Missouri 58 near Belton when he saw a 2002 Cadillac DeVille traveling 68 mph in a 50 mph zone. As he turned around to pull the car over, he saw that the car’s speed was 101. The Cadillac, using the turn lane, passed other traffic that had stopped for a red light at the intersection of Missouri 58. The car ran a red light and smashed into Crawford’s car.
There was an instant fireball followed by a plume of smoke. Fire started to grow along the driver’s side of Crawford’s car.
Thuss ran to the passenger side, climbed inside and pulled her out. An off-duty Johnson County deputy sheriff helped him carry Crawford up a hill and away from the car.
The driver of the Cadillac fled from the scene, but Belton police arrested him a short time later.
Thuss shies away from being called a hero. He pointed to a wall of pictures of troopers killed in the line of duty. He also mentioned the fatal shooting of Kansas City, Kan., police detective Brad Lancaster earlier this week.
“Those are the true heroes out there,” Thuss said. “I was out doing my job, and that is what occurred that day.”
Crawford disagrees and said he is an amazing person.
“He may think he’s just doing his job, but he does way more than that,” she said. “He’s just a very caring person.”
At the hospital, Thuss had told her that he wouldn’t have let her burn.
“I think about that and it chokes me up because I just can’t believe he would do that for me,” she said.
She believes her rescue was definitely a miracle.
Crawford’s husband, Ron, said they felt getting together to honor Thuss seemed fitting.
“We have our wife, our daughter, our sister, our mother because of what he did,” he said.