"No one saw"

March 21, 2023

After a crash with a semitruck in the dark, far from home, a nurse relies on OnStar

Hundreds of medical patients have relied upon the skills of Nancy Riches of St. Catharines, Ontario. She’s been a nurse at the Niagara Region’s largest hospital for six years. In just the last three years, she’s helped dozens and dozens of patients battle COVID and even contracted it herself in March.

But it was OnStar* that Nancy relied upon during the early morning hours of April 29. After visiting her aunt and uncle in Greenville, South Carolina, in the U.S., she headed back north at quarter to five that morning. At 5:24 a.m., her vehicle was hit by a semitruck in a construction zone.

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“All I heard was this big bang,” Nancy recalls. “There was tread all over the highway. He blew a tire and pushed into me, and pushed me into a cement barrier. I was scared. No one saw.” The truck driver may not have even realized he’d lost one of his many tires because the semi didn’t stop.

 

Fortunately, Nancy’s crash triggered OnStar Automatic Crash Response* in her 2017 Chevrolet Silverado. An OnStar Emergency Advisor* was connected to her vehicle and quickly but calmly spoke to her. At the same time, another Advisor contacted local 911 dispatchers.

 

“OnStar detected the accident immediately and responded before my truck even stopped,” Nancy says. “Not being from the area, I had no idea where I was, but OnStar knew exactly where I was.” They told her she was in Gaffney, South Carolina, and even gave her the highway mile marker. “They sent help right away and stayed on until help was at my door.”

In the critical moments following a crash, panic can easily set in. Making the wrong move can prove harmful and even fatal. For example, Nancy’s instinct was to try to leave the vehicle because she was afraid another vehicle would hit her from behind. “I was freaking out because I was up against a cement barrier, all my windows were covered with air bags and I could feel cars whipping by me.”

After asking her if she’d been injured (she had, in fact, broken her back), the Advisor directed her to stay as still as possible. They also suggested she listen for the sirens. “They kept me calm and were directing me on what to do and not what to do,” Nancy says.

The Advisor also asked if they could call anyone for her. She gave them her father’s phone number and was speaking with him moments later.

In addition, Advisors knew how soon emergency vehicles were set to arrive and helped her put on her hazard lights and high beams. When she coughed several times, the Advisor asked if her windows were open and suggested she open them to clear the smoke from the air bags.

“I cannot say enough about OnStar,” Nancy says. “It was a scary moment and they made it better. By the time the First Responders came, I was calm, and I wasn’t freaking out anymore. It’s an excellent service to have.”

Once they learned of her accident, Nancy’s father and brother headed south from Ontario to help out and bring Nancy home. The day after the crash, they went to retrieve personal articles from her totaled truck. The sight was overwhelming. The front of her truck and passenger side were completely smashed. “It was scary. I had a cooler with drinks and snacks on the front seat and we couldn’t even get that out of the truck,” Nancy says.

Today, Nancy is healing and hopes to return to work at the hospital soon. And she’s replaced her 2017 Chevy Silverado with a 2022 Silverado. “Of course, I got OnStar,” she adds. “I cannot say enough about OnStar. I am so grateful to have access to these services. I will never own another vehicle without OnStar!” 

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Life is unpredictable — that’s why the OnStar Safety & Security Plan is here for you with helpful, human problem-solvers 24/7.

Good Samaritan calls OnStar for help after witnessing fiery crash

When Pamela Henderson saw a vehicle that had gone off the edge of a remote cliffside road, she pushed the red Emergency button because her phone battery was dead.

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Crisis Assist is an OnStar service that provides you with critical assistance during severe weather, natural disasters, and other crises.