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Woman Who Saved Truck Driver In SF Crash Honored

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The cab of a big rig cement hauler burns on southbound U.S. 101 near the Interstate 80 split, October 19, 2011. (CBS)

The cab of a big rig cement hauler burns on southbound U.S. 101 near the Interstate 80 split, October 19, 2011. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A woman who pulled an unconscious big-rig driver from a fiery crash to safety last week was presented with an award Thursday for her heroism by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials.

Keenia Williams, 22, and 10 of her family members filled Room 200 at City Hall Thursday afternoon, where Lee presented Williams with the good Samaritan award for her selfless act.

“Thank God for heroes,” Lee said when introducing Williams, who saw the crash on southbound U.S. Highway 101 in San Francisco on Oct. 19 and acted immediately.

Williams said that she was driving her 5-year-old daughter to school when she looked in her rearview mirror and saw a black vehicle spin out, then another car hit it and then saw the big-rig slam into the cars and overturn.

She said she saw the cement truck’s driver, Michael Finerty, exit the cab and pass out on the ground as fuel from the crashed truck caught fire nearby.

She stopped her car, told her daughter to stay put, ran over to Finerty, and dragged him to safety. Fire and CHP crews had approached the scene from the other side and did not immediately see Williams and Finerty when looking for victims.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said that Williams’ quick thinking and instinctive actions were “phenomenal,” adding, “all of us that wear the uniform and have the training are in complete awe of what you did.”

Once they were spotted, Finerty was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and was released.

Thursday was the first time that Finerty and Williams had seen each other since the day of the crash, and Finerty expressed his gratitude for Williams’ response.

“To me, she’s my angel—my guardian angel,” Finerty said.

Lee said that he invited Williams and her family because they all played a role in saving Finerty’s life.

“When it comes to instincts of heroes … sometimes it’s a reflection of your family,” he said before presenting Williams with a diamond-shaped plaque and a bouquet of fresh flowers.

“You look at who brought them up,” Lee said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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