GoFundMe Raises Money for Heroic Homeless Woman
By the edhat staff
An online fundraiser has been set up for Rebecca Neal, a local homeless woman who helped rescue man from a burning vehicle on Highway 154 last month.
Neal and her two-year-old dog Bella were driving near Paradise Road on the evening of November 17. She ended up being one of the first people on the scene of a vehicle rollover leaving the driver trapped.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department reported a vehicle crashed, rolled, and caught on fire. The vehicle became fully engulfed with fire and spread to nearby vegetation. The single occupant male driver was pulled from the vehicle by a female bystander, Fire Captain Scott Safechuck stated.
The Independent reports, witnesses saw two men working to free the driver but the fire grew and the men backed away with burn injuries. The driver was able to free himself through the windshield when Neal arrived and helped pull the driver to safety. She grabbed water bottles from her car to put out the fire on the lower half of the driver's body. She then stayed with the driver to keep him conscious until firefighters arrived.
Captain Safechuck stated the driver sustained serious burn injuries and was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in critical condition and Neal was transported for smoke inhalation and minor burn injuries.
Neal, who graduated from local schools from Roosevelt Elementary through UC Santa Barbara, fell on hard times in recent years and has been living out of her car. She was released from the hospital 12 hours after arriving and still has ongoing health struggles.
Randal Jackson, a man at the scene of the crash, took care of Neal's dog Bella and car while she was in the hospital. He's since started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Neal's healthcare treatment and living costs.
"Rebecca does not suffer from any form of addiction, but she has PTSD from her past experiences. Her car is unreliable and she needs further medical attention for her smoke inhalation and other issues. We are asking for small contributions to help this local hero get a better vehicle and get back on her feet," Jackson wrote.
So far the page has raised over $22,000 for Neal with contributors leaving warm messages of hope and thanks, many calling her a hero.
"Thank you for your selfless act! You truly are a remarkably brave and good human," one wrote.
About a week after being released from the hospital, Neal had a high fever and laryngitis due to complications from smoke inhalation. She and Bella were able to spend a couple of nights in a local motel while she recovered, Jackson reported.
Additionally, a local car dealership has offered to repair and perform maintenance work on her vehicle and others have come forward with potential opportunities for employment.
The driver who sustained serious burns is expected to make a full recovery.
Donations can be made to the fundraising page here.