Homeless woman offered help in return for rescue

The Associated Press
Saturday July 13, 2002

ST. LOUIS — A homeless mother of three who helped a television news photographer rescue a driver trapped in a burning truck received dozens of offers for money and support from people moved by her plight. 

Mary Whitehead, 31, said the generous response to her part in the rescue of 35-year-old Doris Householder was “overwhelming and exciting.” 

“I don’t feel like I did something extraordinary or heroic,” she said. “I did what I would want someone to do for me or my children if we were in need.” 

Whitehead and Bobby Hughes, 45, a news photographer for KTVI-TV, pulled Householder from her pickup truck after it crashed and burst into flames on a highway exit ramp early Wednesday. Another man also helped in the rescue but left before anyone learned his name. 

Householder lost part of a leg and remained hospitalized Friday in fair condition. 

Whitehead and her three children, who shuffle between shelters and low-budget hotels, were in their 1987 broken-down car when they heard the collision. Hughes arrived a short time later.