By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Janice Bell didn’t know she was going to meet her guardian angel, Jeff Foster, when she started driving home Jan. 17.
The two were reunited last week to talk about the Thursday evening that brought them together.
Her new car had been handling the road construction along Highway 178 in New Albany well but that evening she hit one too many potholes and noticed her check engine light come on.
Some smoke began to rise from the hood of her car so she pulled over to the shoulder of the road, before Beacon Hill.
“I was going to call a wrecker service to come get my car,” she said.
At that time, Foster, 46, of Shannon was leaving a friend’s house and noticed the smoke coming from her car. He drove past but thought twice and pulled over.
“He said, ‘Are you OK,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m calling the wrecker service now,’” Bell remembered.
Foster said at that point the car was filling with smoke but Bell didn’t notice because she was focused on calling the wrecker service.
He said he thought about leaving since Bell told him she was fine but again, changed his mind.
“About that time flames started coming out of the car and I ran over to get her out and she told me she can’t walk,” Foster said.
Bell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003 and has trouble walking on her own.
“I said, ‘Well, we still have to get you out,’” Foster remembered, and he pulled her out of the car. He held her up and they started to walk back across the road to Foster’s truck.
“I helped her walk about half way across the road and she said she was going to give out so I threw her over my shoulder and toted her the rest of the way,” he said.
Once in the safety of Foster’s truck, he said Bell told him she needed her purse that was still in the car. “It was too late for that, it was engulfed,” he said.
“He carried me to his truck and I was so in shock that I was asking about my purse and worrying that my lipstick was burning,” Bell said. “He’s my angel.”
That night Foster drove Bell to her New Albany home and waited with her while she sorted everything out.
Foster said no one was on the road when he saw the smoke and knew he needed to stop. “That’s just the way I was raised,” he said.
Bell patted Foster’s hand when they were reunited last week. “There are still good people in the world,” she said.
Bell has since been able to get a new car and sort everything out with her insurance. Foster has called and checked in on her a few times.
The two laughed like old friends Wednesday as he wheeled her to her new car at the North Mississippi Medical Center parking garage where she works in the Heart Institute. Foster works down the street at Century Construction.