Teller Chases Down Driverless Van With Child Inside As It Rolls Away

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Chilling wind, icy roads and four-inch heels didn't keep Evergreen CU teller Jamie Smith, 26, from stopping a driverless van that was rolling across a busy highway with a four-year-old girl inside.

Smith said she was standing with another teller at the drive-up window when she saw a member jump out of her van to chase a check that had been picked up by a gust of wind.

"She forgot to put it in park,'' Smith said of the van that started rolling down the driveway.

What Smith did next turned her into the town's hero by local news media and gave her nightmares about what could have happened to her and the van's passenger.

"I feel pretty good about it,'' she said. "But it feels like one of those things that doesn't seem totally real. Definitely, God was protecting me.and that little girl.''

As Evergreen staff and members tried to get the mother's attention, Smith said her adrenalin kicked in and without thinking, she bolted out the front door toward the van that had just entered the highway and collided with a car. As Smith was running alongside the van, it had two more near misses, one with a bus, the other with a car.

"This is Route 302, a four-lane road everybody uses to get anywhere,'' she said. "And it was lunchtime, which made it extremely busy.''

Vehicle Hits Snow Bank

Jamie said the accident slowed the van down enough for her to reach the driver's side door handle and pull herself in just before it hit a very large snow bank on the other side of the road.

The van's owner, Jonna Boure, who only realized the van had slipped away when she heard the collision, immediately made her way to a parking lot where Smith had steered the vehicle and stopped it.

"The mother was so shaken,'' Smith said. "Just seeing her try to cross the street got to me. I couldn't imagine what she was feeling.''

After the two women hugged, Smith said she went back to the van to get the little girl, who was safely belted in her car seat. "I told her what a good job she did by staying in her seat,'' Smith said.

No one was injured, but the car involved in the collision was totaled, Smith said. That car's driver had no idea that the van had no driver. After the ambulance and police cars left, Smith said, Boure, "who looked like she was still in shock," walked into the CU one more time to thank her.

And, just as she started thinking that the ordeal was over, a man walked in with flowers and asked which one was Jamie. He approached her and handed her the bouquet.

"He said, 'I'm the father of that little girl you saved,' '' she said "I couldn't stop crying.''

After that, she was bombarded with requests for interviews. In fact, she said, the local radio stations and newspapers got to her before she could alert family.

Not surprisingly, everybody praised her heroics, except her husband. "I think he was thinking that I could have been killed out there,'' she said. "But I think he would have done the same thing.''

Smith is Evergreen's newest employee. After only a month on the job, she said, "I absolutely love it here. All the members know the people who work here. It's very family-oriented.''

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