Before July 11, 2019, Robert Lawson and Jeff Johnson had never met.And if they hadn’t been driving on Highway 52 in Winston-Salem at about the same time late that afternoon, it’s possible they would have remained strangers.However, their bravery, quick thinking and heroic actions during a fiery crash that day that saved a woman’s life would ultimately lead to a new friendship.Related: Piedmont Triad’s ‘Salute to Heroes’ event hosted by the American Red Cross happening virtuallyJohnson, who lives in Winston-Salem, was traveling north up U.S. 52 to take his children hiking when he came upon a fiery wreck in the southbound lanes, near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Lawson, of King, who was heading home from work, also spotted the wreck, which involved multiple cars and an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer. Both men parked their cars and ran toward the scene to help a woman who was trapped inside her car.Read more: Crews battle flames after wreck involving 8 vehicles shuts down US 52 in Winston-Salem, police say”I seen this woman’s hands reaching out, so I immediately stopped my vehicle and ran over there and tried to help her get out,” said Lawson, who was first on the scene. “I tried to open the door but the door handle fell off, and I was like, ‘Uh-oh, this ain’t good.'”Then Lawson spotted Johnson running toward him. “And then I knew, I had this crazy feeling that it was going to be alright, like somebody there with you,” Lawson said.From his distance, Johnson couldn’t see the woman’s face but could hear someone screaming. “We both reached into the compartment, pulled as hard as we could, and got her out of the car,” Johnson recalled. “Probably 30 seconds later the rest of the compartment was completely engulfed in flames.”There were others who helped free the woman from the burning vehicle, but a bond was formed between Lawson and Johnson.Lawson, who grew up around racing, said he has seen his share of bad wrecks on the track, while Johnson has spent the last 16 years as a nurse in emergency departments and intensive care units around the Piedmont. Both credited their backgrounds with helping them keep their composure. To this day, the pair remain friends and text one another regularly.”It helps. It helps to have somebody who shared that same experience,” Johnson said. The American Red Cross of the Piedmont Triad is honoring both of men this month with a Salute to Heroes award for their role as “Citizen Heroes” category. Both Johnson and Lawson insist they did nothing out of the ordinary.”It’s nice, you know, what they’re doing, by all means, because there are a lot of people who do stuff like this every day, but I do not consider myself a hero,” Lawson said. “I have a hard time calling myself a hero. I’m a human being and I did what I thought was right,” Johnson said. “I kind of live by a motto — ‘We’re only here for a short period of time. Do good things.’ I would do it again. No doubt about it.”The woman Lawson and Johnson saved did not with to be publicly identified but continues to recover from her injuries.

Before July 11, 2019, Robert Lawson and Jeff Johnson had never met.

And if they hadn’t been driving on Highway 52 in Winston-Salem at about the same time late that afternoon, it’s possible they would have remained strangers.

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However, their bravery, quick thinking and heroic actions during a fiery crash that day that saved a woman’s life would ultimately lead to a new friendship.

Related: Piedmont Triad’s ‘Salute to Heroes’ event hosted by the American Red Cross happening virtually

Johnson, who lives in Winston-Salem, was traveling north up U.S. 52 to take his children hiking when he came upon a fiery wreck in the southbound lanes, near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Lawson, of King, who was heading home from work, also spotted the wreck, which involved multiple cars and an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer.

Both men parked their cars and ran toward the scene to help a woman who was trapped inside her car.

Read more: Crews battle flames after wreck involving 8 vehicles shuts down US 52 in Winston-Salem, police say

“I seen this woman’s hands reaching out, so I immediately stopped my vehicle and ran over there and tried to help her get out,” said Lawson, who was first on the scene. “I tried to open the door but the door handle fell off, and I was like, ‘Uh-oh, this ain’t good.'”

Then Lawson spotted Johnson running toward him.

“And then I knew, I had this crazy feeling that it was going to be alright, like somebody there with you,” Lawson said.

From his distance, Johnson couldn’t see the woman’s face but could hear someone screaming.

“We both reached into the compartment, pulled as hard as we could, and got her out of the car,” Johnson recalled. “Probably 30 seconds later the rest of the compartment was completely engulfed in flames.”

There were others who helped free the woman from the burning vehicle, but a bond was formed between Lawson and Johnson.

Lawson, who grew up around racing, said he has seen his share of bad wrecks on the track, while Johnson has spent the last 16 years as a nurse in emergency departments and intensive care units around the Piedmont.

Both credited their backgrounds with helping them keep their composure.

To this day, the pair remain friends and text one another regularly.

Jeff Johnson and Robert Lawson

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“It helps. It helps to have somebody who shared that same experience,” Johnson said.

The American Red Cross of the Piedmont Triad is honoring both of men this month with a Salute to Heroes award for their role as “Citizen Heroes” category.

Both Johnson and Lawson insist they did nothing out of the ordinary.

“It’s nice, you know, what they’re doing, by all means, because there are a lot of people who do stuff like this every day, but I do not consider myself a hero,” Lawson said.

“I have a hard time calling myself a hero. I’m a human being and I did what I thought was right,” Johnson said. “I kind of live by a motto — ‘We’re only here for a short period of time. Do good things.’ I would do it again. No doubt about it.”

The woman Lawson and Johnson saved did not with to be publicly identified but continues to recover from her injuries.

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