BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Ryan Reech almost didn't make his 21st birthday.
On October 24 - one month shy of his big day - Reech fell asleep at the wheel. His car flipped twice before landing in a tree along LA 308 near Thibodaux. That tree happened to be in the yard of Randy and Renee Gautreaux.
"The cop had told me that he was investigating a fatality, because when he left the scene, the cops thought that he was dead," Renee recalled.
Reech's mother Angela Chelette thought the same thing when a deputy showed up at 3:30 a.m. at her Addis home. He told her to get to Our Lady of the Lake hospital as fast as she could.
"When someone tells you the priest will be in with you first and then the doctor, there's a million things that go through your head that your kid's gone," Chelette said, choking back tears.
The Gautreauxs immediately called 911 after hearing the crash from their bedroom. Renee said police got to the scene within three minutes, and Reech was eventually airlifted to the Lake. It took ten staples to repair the gash in his head.
Chelette believes her son would be dead had it not been for the quick action of the Gautreauxs, first responders, and the trauma surgeons.
"My son could have bled to death, and it's just a miracle that he's alive," she said. "I owe them everything. I owe them my life. They will forever be in our family."
The couple from Labadieville agrees. Randy and Renee said their stretch of road sees very few passing cars in the early-morning hours.
After getting daily updates on Reech's condition, the Gautreauxs finally got to meet Ryan three weeks after the accident.
"I never met y'all before," Reech said from his hospital bed. "This is just a lot to take in. People that don't even know me saved my life."
After nearly a month spent in hospitals in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Reech made it home two days before Thanksgiving and four days before his birthday.