CANTON, Ohio — Thanks to the generosity of an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper, a college student was able to get home safely for the Thanksgiving holiday.
On November 19 at 1:45 a.m., Trooper Evan Hill of the OSHP's Canton Post stopped to assist a disabled vehicle that was traveling on Interstate 77. The vehicle was being driven by Elise Gaffney, 31, who was coming back home to Northeast Ohio from East Tennessee State University. She was dealing with a flat tire.
Trooper Hill tried to change the tire, but the spare was rusted to the undercarriage of the woman's minivan and would not come unstuck after multiple attempts.
“My tire literally exploded,” Gaffney told 3News in an exclusive interview.
A wrecker company was requested to the scene to assist in removing the spare tire. It still didn't come unstuck.
So Trooper Hill went above and beyond. He offered to drive both Gaffney and her 80-pound dog all the way to her parent's house in Hudson, some 40 minutes away.
“I told her I'm out here, instead of waiting out here in the cold, I’ll do what I can to help you out,” Hill told 3news. “I got some tools out and started working on trying to get the tire out. She started to get visibly upset that she felt stuck. I told her 'Don't worry about it. I don't care about how far it is. We'll get you wherever you need to be.”
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, 3News reporter Marisa Saenz helped them reunite for the first time.
“Do you recognize this man right here?” 3News asked, standing next to Hill in a Zoom interview with Gaffney, who has since returned back to Tennessee.
“Yes! Hello,” Gaffney said.
The dialogue between the two was wholesome, with messages of gratitude.
“Thank you so much. I just feel like you went above and beyond,” Gaffney said.
“Oh, you’re very welcome and I appreciate that,” Hill responded. “I'm just glad I stumbled upon you and we were able to get you home.”
"Trooper Hill is commended for the compassion and service he provided this young lady to ensure she made it home safely to her parents and for Thanksgiving break," OSHP Lt. Ray Santiago tells 3News.