Spokane man becomes unlikely hero after downtown crash


(STORY IMAGE:KHQ.COM)

SPOKANE, Wash. -A baby and his parents, along with another driver, are all recovering after a horrific crash downtown. It happened near Sprague and Division just before 10 Sunday night.

The family's van was hit by a driver witnesses claim was going "50 to 60 miles per hour." They were all injured but expected to be okay, and a big reason why is an unlikely hero.

We all have a past, things we wish we could take back.

"I've been in prison the past 17 years," Josh Tangehahl said. 

But few get the opportunity for redemption.

Tangehahl has only been out of prison for three months after serving nearly two decades for manslaughter. 

"I'm on work release right now," he said. "I was on my way back."

The clock was ticking. Tangehahl had just minutes before his strictly enforced Brownstone curfew.

"That's when I looked at the clock and was like man, I need to get back because if I'm not back, I'm going back to prison," he said.

But he was willing to risk that for a six-month-old stranger.

"I heard crying but I didn't know where the baby was," he said. "The seat had been dislodged."

Tangehahl said he saw the car that slammed into the family's van driving erratically.

"We saw the car swerve in front of us," he said. "I told my girlfriend to follow them."

A few blocks later, he heard the impact.

"The car that hit it was probably going 50 to 60 mph through the intersection," he said.

Tangehahl ran from his car toward the soft whimpers.

"As soon as I got in there, I saw the mom pinned, the dad was in and out of it," he said. "The (baby) was out of it's harness on one side with the strap around his neck. The seat was upside down so the baby was just hanging."

Seconds were feeling like hours as he worked to cut the baby free. 

"It was terrifying, the baby was crying."

He handed the baby to a nearby security guard and then worked to free the baby's parents. He is a hero to all who watched.

"No, no," he said. "It's all good."

He wants no recognition. 

"I just reacted," he said. "I did what I thought was the right thing."

A relative of the baby said he had a broken rib and a laceration to his liver. He is expected to be alright.

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