There are two stories in the aftermath of a tragic crash on Interstate 95 last week which to us demonstrate compassion and pathos when the unthinkable happens.
One is a father's love for his child and the other is the loss and search for a cherished family pet, a cat named Winnie.
William Patrick Myles was a 62-year-old operations manager for an elevator company who saved his daughter's life when the van they were traveling from Pennsylvania back to Florida in was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer.
"He saved my life," 22-year-old Kathleen Myles said last week by phone. "The car was burning."
What Mr. Myles did was unimaginable even to the troopers who investigated the crash, especially in the condition he was in after the estimated 60 to 65 miles per hour impact.
Trooper Scott Richardson told us last week, as did Sergeant M.P. Cape, Mr. Myles, his spine severed, his back broken, was able to get his daughter out of the burning vehicle before collapsing. "I would have been burned alive," Kathleen said. "He did that with a severed spine."
It was typical of him to be self-sacrificing, Kathleen said. He loved his children. "It was a miracle."
He also loved the five cats the family adopted. "Oh, my gosh," Kathleen said, "He loved his kittens."
The state Highway Patrol said last week several people who know the details of the crash have left food for Winnie, hoping it will coax her from hiding. Upon the impact of the crash, Winnie's cage broke free and she fled.
The Highway Patrol encourages caution when looking for Winnie in areas in and around where the crash occurred, near the 180 exit in Northampton County and if she is spotted it is encouraged call the office in Roanoke Rapids at 252-536-2224.
"It would mean the world to us," to have her back, Kathleen said. "She is a sweetheart, a shy cat."
With any luck at all, finding the cat would help the family "have a piece of our father," back, Kathleen said.
There is a sidebar to this sorrowful story as well.
It's simply the kindness which has been shown the family in the wake of the fatal crash, Kathleen said. "We appreciate everything everyone has done for us," she said. "North Carolina has been taking care of us. It means the world to us."
What we have reported in the aftermath of the crash touches us deeply, the story of a father's love, what the promise of hope in finding Winnie would mean for this family and the kindness our area has shown a family in the most heartbreaking of circumstances one could imagine — Editor