Survivor of Burbank Car Crash Reunites With Rescuer

The teen hugged the man who heard her screams and helped her escape the flaming car

By John Cádiz Klemack
|  Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013  |  Updated 2:19 AM PDT
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Savannah Underwood, the only survivor of a crash that killed five of her friends, met her rescuer on Monday. Juan Ganaja was working on a delivery shortly after four in the morning when he heard Underwood's screams and pulled her out from the fiery crash. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Burbank for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2013.

John Cadiz Klemack

Savannah Underwood, the only survivor of a crash that killed five of her friends, met her rescuer on Monday. Juan Ganaja was working on a delivery shortly after four in the morning when he heard Underwood's screams and pulled her out from the fiery crash. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Burbank for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2013.

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Delivery Man Rescues Teen from Burning Wreckage of Deadly Crash

A delivery man rescued an 18-year-old woman from the burning wreckage of a car crash that killed five of her friends. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Burbank for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Oct. 1, 2013.

Delivery Man Pulls Sole Survivor of Burbank Crash to Safety

Savannah Underwood, the only survivor of a deadly crash that happened in Burbank over the weekend, was traveling with five friends when the driver lost control. Underwood was pulled out from the vehicle by a delivery man who heard her screams. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Burbank for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2013.
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Savannah Underwood was the only survivor of the Burbank fiery car crash that killed five of her friends.

It's been more than a week since the collision, and the 18-year-old vividly remembers nearly every moment, including crawling out of the back window of the smoky Nissan Altima to escape the flames.

"I screamed help over and over again and I knew I wouldn't stop screaming until someone came and I was praying someone would hear, because who's out at 4:15, 4:30 in the morning?"

On Monday, the Underwood reunited for the first time with the person who heard her screams for help.

Juan Ganaja, a delivery man who ran toward the flames to carry Underwood to safety, was thanked by the teen during a tearful embrace.

"Thank you isn't even close to what I feel like I owe him, because it takes a lot of bravery and courage like that to save someone," Underwood said. “Most people would've ignored it."

Ganaja, who was on his third delivery stop that morning, picked her up and ran as fast as he could as she screamed for him to help her friends. But by the time he turned around, the car had exploded in flames. There was nothing else that could be done.

The victims were identified by family and friends as Stephen Stoll, Sebastian Forero, Sameer Nevarez, Malak Hariri and Sugey Cuevas.

"I feel so bad every day because I knew that I'm the one who was with them in their last moments and I know they look at me and they feel like I'm the last person to be with their baby and it breaks my heart," Underwood said. "I want them to know that I tried. I really did, I tried so hard. And I'm so sorry."

The driver lost control on a curving freeway underpass and struck a concrete pillar. The cause remains under investigation.

Underwood attended the funeral for her friend, Hariri, last week. Hariri's aunt gave her a diamond necklace she now wears around her neck, saying the necklace had once belonged to an angel.

Underwood said she has always loved butterflies and now sees her own life as one -- like a caterpillar getting a second chance at life.

As for Ganaja, he said he does not consider himself a hero, but Underwood's parents don't think the same.

"You have given me the greatest gift: the life of my daughter," said the teen's father, David Underwood.

Fundraisers are being held for the victims of the crash:

Savannah Underwood, for medical bills: www.gofundme.com/4nm8ao
Malak Hariri, for memorial services: www.gofundme.com/4mbg10
Sugey Cuevas, for memorial services: www.gofundme.com/4kdnt4
Sameer Nevarez, memorial fund: www.gofundme.com/4l3w18
Sebastian Forero, memorial fund: www.gofundme.com/4mhgzo
Stephen Stoll, memorial fund: www.gofundme.com/4lfq60

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