HAND IT ON: Good Samaritan saves wheelchair-bound man from burning truck

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Greg Meriwether told me a year and a half ago when I took over Hand It On responsibilities that I would 'get more' out of doing this segment than the people we gave money to. Boy was he correct. Every single story affects me in some way, small or large.

Viewers are constantly telling me how they too, are often touched by a particular Hand It On segment.

This could not be more true than with this week's Hand It On. I believe this week's segment was actually orchestrated specifically for my benefit in order to humble me, make me live with more of an 'attitude of gratitude,' complain less. Because in the grand scheme of things, I don't have any problems.

Jonathan Shaw called me last month and told me the story of how a Good Samaritan waiting to catch a bus helped him get out of his burning truck in November of 2016. Jonathan, who had never met this gentleman before, felt like it was divine intervention that placed that gentleman at that spot at that moment.

Jonathan was sitting in the parking lot of the UPS Store on Bluebonnet near Perkins waiting for his wife to return to the vehicle. Jonathan noticed white smoke coming from his engine. The white smoke became black smoke and then flames. His truck was on fire.

Jonathan was trying to get out of the truck when the Good Samaritan, James Williams, who was waiting on the city bus near that location, saw the flames and ran to assist. He pulled Jonathan to safety just as Jonathan's truck became fully engulfed and was ultimately destroyed.

As the two spoke while standing in the parking lot, James told Jonathan he worked at Vision Works in that same shopping center. He had been off of work for some time and was waiting to catch his bus home. The bus was seldom more than a few minutes past schedule. This day, due in part to holiday traffic, James' bus was almost two hours late. It was because of the late bus that James was still waiting. Had the bus been on time, James would have been long gone.

James could not understand what was taking his bus so long that day. Both he and Jonathan now believe they know.

"You know, sometimes when things don't go your way," Jonathan told me when I visited his home earlier this week, "sometimes you've got to sit back and let God do the work for you. You never know what He's protecting us from or putting us into to help somebody else."

Jonathan wanted to Hand It On to Good Samaritan, James Williams, but had no way to get to Vision Works to do it. His burnt truck was the only transportation he and his wife had between the two of them.

What makes this story even more interesting is Jonathan was born with one arm and no legs. He is wheelchair bound, but very mobile. And do not let him hear you call him disabled!

"Disabled is in the mind," Jonathan explained. "First of all, if you feel like you're disabled, then you're disabled. I was raised by a single mom. She was a strong role model for me. She always told me to be as independent as I could. Life is not gonna always be easy, so you gotta' make do with what you have. I never cried about not walking. I get around pretty much as well as anybody else. I mean, I may not be able to keep up with you as fast, but I can do it."

I told Jonathan that photographer, Brandon Shackelford, and myself would bring him to Vision Works to surprise James with the Hand It On award. Jonathan is extremely independent. He rolled himself out to our news unit, got in, and buckled up all by himself. Once we arrived at the store, Jonathan got out of the vehicle and wheeled himself in without assistance and was greeted by smiles and hugs.

James was called to the lobby. He and Jonathan embraced. Then Jonathan began. "I just wanted to come by and tell you I appreciate what you did for me. I just want to hand this on to you man. To God be the glory." With that, Jonathan handed James three crisp, new, $100 bills.

"Wow," James said and was sincerely and noticeably touched by the gesture. "Thank you."

But this Hand It On segment was not over just yet. James handed some money back to Jonathan and said, "I'd like to donate this back to you."

"Man are you serious," Jonathan exclaimed, also noticeably affected by this turn of events.

"I'm serious," was James' response.

Jonathan reluctantly accepted the gift. "You're a kind hearted brother, man," Jonathan said. "May God bless you."

Before we left, I asked James in private why he returned money to Jonathan.

"Well, I gave it back because a new truck with a special lift for him to get around, that's pretty expensive and I figured it's sowing a seed toward his vehicle so I can get me a vehicle."

Unbelievable. Two strangers. A truck fire. A late bus. Yes, God is performing miracles in our world today. Don't miss 'em!

If you'd like to help get Jonathan a new truck and have it modified with a lift and other special equipment so he can drive again, an account has been established at Chase Bank that will allow you to donate toward this blessing. The Chase account number for donations is: 3589886218.

As Jonathan told me – "To God be the Glory". To God be the Glory indeed.

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