Alexei Newell, an Army Ranger and 2012 graduate of Lee County High School, is being lauded this weekend after helping save a man’s life after his tractor trailer went off the road on Interstate 85 in Cherokee, South Carolina.
According to WSPA-TV in Spartanburg (video above), Newell was driving home to Georgia from North Carolina when he witnessed the accident in Cherokee, near Gaffney about 58 miles southwest of Charlotte.
“I threw on my shoes really quick jumped out and I wanted to run over there and make sure the driver was okay,” Newell, who serves in the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion, told the station via a Skype interview. “The driver side door was pinned by the trailer because of the way it crashed, and I went over to the passenger side and checked the door handles and couldn’t get in, tried to kick the window out and someone tossed me up a stick and I smashed it out like that.”
Newell said others helped him at the scene — one person used a fire extinguisher to put out an engine fire. Newell found the driver’s phone and called the man’s wife to assure her that her husband would be OK.
Adding to the positive vibes of the story, Newell was homebound Friday following a check-up with his doctor after successfully battling Hodgkins Lymphoma, which was he was diagnosed with in 2014. Newell very recently learned he is cancer-free.
Newell is the son of Shannon Gurwitch, chairman of the Lee County Board of Elections from 2013-16.