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How a near-fatal car accident near Mendocino forged a friendship

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A 19-year-old crash victim thanks a "kindred spirit" for helping her survive and heal after a near-fatal accident near Mendocino. (KGO-TV )

19-year-old Kayla King doesn't remember much about falling asleep at the wheel of her Kia on U.S. 101 in Sonoma County. But the driver behind her remembers it all, how she plowed into a grove of redwood trees at 70 miles an hour, causing one of the trees to splinter in three sections.

The man behind her car was Ruben Martin, an off-duty fire inspector for Ross Valley Fire at the time. Kayla was trapped in the wreckage, was bleeding profusely, and was having difficulty breathing. Martin knew what to do as they waited for paramedics to arrive.

That was Tuesday, July 18th, Martin wasn't sure Kayla would survive, but she did.

Now she has found a kindred spirit or someone who was in the right place at the right time, but also, a person who had survived a near-fatal accident himself when he was crushed in an accident involving two fire rigs. Martin knew the long road that Kayla was facing.

King is now dealing with a pelvis injury and a ruptured vertebra. She lost her right eye, which in time will be replaced with a prosthetic eyeball. However, her spirits are lifted by her close friends and by Martin, who spent his day off today to visit Kayla and her mom, Jill Bango, at their Healdsburg home.

Follow David Louie on Twitter for the latest updates.

Related Topics:
car crashcrashcar accidentcar accidentsrescueMendocino
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