How strangers came to the rescue when a 19-year-old Bluffton woman’s car flipped

When Alexus Dean’s car started to slide on Bluffton Parkway recently, she immediately knew it was going to be bad.

“As soon as I turned, I completely lost control,” the 19-year-old said of her Honda Civic. “It happened so fast.”

Although Oct. 7’s heavy rain had subsided, the roads were slick that night, and when Dean turned left onto Malphrus Road, her car slid outward.

When it hit the curb, the entire car flipped. It landed across the street from Pier 1 Imports.

Dean was upside down.

She immediately started to take stock: She wasn’t in pain, but the windshield was shattered. She couldn’t move, but the car’s entire bumper was on the ground in front of her.

A man emerged from outside and opened her door.

“Thank God you’re alive,” she remembered him saying over and over again.

“You’re alive. That’s all that matters.”

alexus dean car.jpg
Alexus Dean’s car after she hit a slick patch and flipped on Oct. 7. Jennifer Dean Special to The Island Packet

The middle-aged, African American man helped her get out of her overturned car. She walked with her good Samaritan away from the vehicle relatively unscathed — just a few bruises and small cuts from the shattered windshield.

Dean never caught the man’s name. She doesn’t know anything about the person who may have saved her life.

But his presence, along with a man and a woman who stopped to help shortly after, brought Dean peace during the scariest moments of her life.

“I felt safe with those people,” she said of the three strangers who surrounded her in the wet grass. “They calmed me down instead of asking what happened. I was able to take a second to breathe before having to answer questions.”

Just as quickly as the accident happened, it ended.

Jennifer Dean Special to The Island Packet

One of the people with her called 911, and then Dean was in the back of an ambulance. Police lights reflected off her car as emergency medical personnel treated her injuries and asked her questions.

Her caretakers began to leave as Dean’s mother, Jennifer, arrived. She had made it to see her daughter only because the man who first stopped to help lent Alexus his phone so she could call her family.

“I immediately got in my car with my heart in my stomach, looking for where my baby had flipped her car,” Jennifer Dean told The Island Packet Monday. “The drive from Palmetto Dunes to the corner of Bluffton Parkway and Malphrus Road was the longest ride I have ever had. I was in search of [police] lights.”

Alexus Dean Special to The Island Packet

Alexus Dean was taken to Hilton Head Hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries and released. She said she still drives every day by the place where her car flipped, and she’s able to pass without getting too emotional.

Although she has recovered, Dean still doesn’t know the names of all the people who helped her on the side of the road.

“I wish I could give them more thanks than I gave them,” she said Tuesday.

Her mother recently posted a photo of the overturned car on Facebook, hoping to connect with someone who saw the accident and who might be able to identify the people who helped her daughter.

Then she got a message.

“My friend showed me a post you put out there trying to find who helped,” Jay Gorman wrote. He said he called 911, and he and the other man helped Alexus Dean out of the car.

Gorman said he was driving home to Heritage Lakes when he saw the car flip.

“She was pretty shaken up,” he recalled in the message. “We calmed her down ‘til the paramedics arrived and they took over.”

The other man remains anonymous, but Jennifer Dean said her daughter had angels watching over her.

Alexus Dean said all she would be able to say to Gorman and others is “thank you.”

“It meant more to me than they will ever even know,” she said.

Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.