WESTLAKE, Ohio (WJW)– Stunning dash camera video from Westlake police shows a car engulfed in flames after crashing into a tree at Bradley Woods Reservation with two teens inside.
A 911 caller was told to not intervene, but thankfully they did — rescuing 16-year-old Emily Culkar Monday night from the growing flames as Metroparks police and firefighters arrived.
“That is just unreal. That is, just gave me goosebumps thinking about that.”
Michael Bookzam is calling for prayers and goodwill for Emily at both his Westlake Lazer Wash business on the sign out front and at the North Ridge Racket and Paddle Club in North Ridgeville, where Emily works.
“Emily desperately needs those things right now. She’s cheerful, she’s a cheerleader at Avon, she works with the sparkle kids over there, that pretty much encompasses her personality,” Bookzam said.
Her 18-year-old friend Hayden Slone was able to get out of the driver’s seat but was injured. Bookzam said Wednesday that Emily underwent surgery for a broken back and sustained other injuries from the crash.
“She had her seatbelt on, saved her life, but perhaps maybe caused some internal damage. There’s kidney damage, spleen damage, intestinal damage, extensive internal damage.”
After Bookzam said more than 2,000 people asked how they could help, his wife came up with the idea to collect notes of encouragement in a box to help her emotionally recover.
“Any message that is going to transfer through, it can come through us and we’ll get it to her, to let her know her listen, before next winter you’ll be back on that snowboard again, and next summer, next fall, you’ll be back at cheer again.”
Her family releasing a statement saying:
“Emily’s parents, sisters, and brothers want to express our heartfelt thanks to all our friends and families, and our extended families at Avon High School and North Ridge Racket and Paddle.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of support. To all those who touched Emily this week, your hands have literally been hands of healing.
“Starting with the Cleveland Metro Parks Police, Westlake Fire and Police forces, St. John’s Westshore Hospital Emergency Staff, Life Flight staff and pilot, and to the UH Trauma and SICU nurses and doctors, ours is an unwavering state of awe and admiration. Thank you.
“But the biggest thanks, the humbling and indebted gratitude goes to the young Good Samaritan who ran into the flames and pulled our Emily from that burning car. You are the true hero. Your unselfish actions were incredibly pure and praiseworthy. Because of your humanity, a certain tragedy was averted and a loving family remains whole. Where ever you are, thank you for being Emily’s guardian angel.
“We would also like to send healing and prayers to Emily’s friend Hayden who was in the car with her.”
Well wishes can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to 5475 Mills Creek Ln. N, North Ridgeville, OH 44039.