Connie Odoms couldn't believe it when she came across the smashed yellow car.
A woman was trapped inside, her body pierced by a large tree branch, and no one was stopping to help near a busy intersection in Lindenhurst Tuesday morning.
"I couldn't believe people kept passing her," Odoms said. "I was ticked off."
So Odoms pulled over. "I saw a woman with the door open, hanging out of her car, saying 'Help.' "
Odoms, who is CPR-certified, said she was shaking and had to struggle to stay cool so she could calm the woman, Helen Miller, 41.
"I told her not to touch anything," Odoms said. "She was wheezing pretty bad. I didn't want her to panic. She was pretty much pinned. I just tried to keep eye contact with her."
Odoms, 34, called the woman's husband, Todd Miller, and waited until the ambulance arrived. Then she went went back to work at Allendale Associates in Lake Villa.
Miller was listed in fair condition at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. Her husband says the tree branch impaled his wife below her lungs and above her stomach, missing vital organs.
Todd Miller, an IT auditor for Baxter Healthcare, had come home earlier than planned this week from a business trip and was there when Odoms called.
"I was here 45 minutes before the ambulance arrived with her," Todd Miller said from the hospital Tuesday. "That was some of the longest 45 minutes in my life."
Miller said his wife, a teacher at Waukegan Public School District 60 schools, was in good spirits after surgery and plans to use the tree branch for an art project.
He said he heard she was singing the Vanilla Ice song, "Ice, Ice Baby" during the ambulance ride to the hospital.
Last year, Helen Miller was treated at the same hospital for a rare heart disease. She was unconscious in the intensive care unit for more than 30 days, her husband said.
Todd Miller said he called Odoms back after the surgery to let her know how his wife was doing.
"I just prayed that she would be okay," Odoms said.
This wasn't the first time Odom has come to a stranger's assistance. About five years ago, she helped a woman whose vehicle ran off the road and smashed into a telephone pole.
"I just did what I teach kids to do, which is try to treat others as you want to be treated," Odoms said.
"If anything, I was ticked off at the people driving by," she said. "Even if they were scared, they should have at least stopped and talked to her and gotten some kind of information."