Social Media Connects OSU Parade Crash Victim With Good Samaritan
STILLWATER, Oklahoma - The power of social media is helping connect one of the OSU parade victims with a mystery man who stood by her side and kept her calm during the scariest moment of their life.
Life can change in an instant; OSU Junior Kayleigh Atwell experienced that first hand.
“I remember all of it,” she said.
Kayleigh, like many others, was changed when a car crashed into the crowd during OSU's Homecoming Parade.
“I just ducked my head and closed my eyes and waited until it was over,” she said.
When she opened her eyes, her knee was shattered and she couldn't move.
Dozens around her were also hurt, four of them fatally; but through the chaos, there was comfort from a stranger.
“Basically latched on to his arm and I said, 'Don't leave me, I don't want to be by myself,'” Kayleigh said.
The man did just that - stayed with Kayleigh until she was taken to a hospital.
In the weeks to come, while she recovered at home, she wondered who the man was. Then, she saw a picture online.
“I said, 'I don't know what his name is, but that's the guy that was with me,'” she said.
A friend of the family asked if I would share the picture on Facebook. I did, and it was shared nearly 4,000 times and in just 40 minutes, someone recognized the man.
“Who knew that posting one picture and saying, 'We need help finding this guy' would happen so quickly,” Kayleigh said.
His name is Bryan Vanhooydonk - a Texas native and OSU fan who was in Stillwater that day for his family's first homecoming.
“I will always remember that day, time, the whole scenario is embedded in my head,” Bryan said.
His family wasn't hurt, but Bryan was. Although, he didn't realize he had a gash on his head worthy of five stitches, his focus was the young lady who had begged him to stay by her side.
“That still gives me chills every day when I think about it,” he said. “I just kind of dropped to my knees and began to make sure they were talking and breathing.”
Bryan said he was just one Cowboy fan helping another when she needed it most; for that, Kayleigh is grateful.
“I just want to say, thank you for being there with me,” she said.
Bryan and Kayleigh have talked and they're planning to meet in person in Stillwater in the spring.
Kayleigh said, after talking through email, she learned Bryan's stepdaughter is in the business school with her at OSU.