Pingor was driving on a very busy highway, taking her daughter Jessica and three other Junior Girl Scouts to a sleepover event, when her SUV started having trouble and she was forced to pull over to the side of the road. Never mind AAA, help was already on the way — in the form of Philadelphia resident Frank Riegler, who just happened to be driving right behind her.
“I thought he was just going to make sure we had help coming, or maybe make a call for us, and then be on his way,” said Pingor. “But we started talking and something just told me to trust this guy, so I did.”
Riegler did more to help than just make a phone call or check in on Joanne and the Girl Scouts. First, he used his van to push the SUV two miles — one mile to the highway exit, then another mile to a gas station where it could be safely parked to await AAA and Pingor’s husband. Then he drove Pingor and the four girls to their sleepover. After dropping them off, he even returned to the vehicle to ensure that it was safe and that AAA was on its way. Mr. Pingor had been notified and had arrived at the vehicle by that time and the two men were able to meet. Mr. Pingor called Riegler his wife’s “guardian angel.”
This wasn’t just a one-time good deed for Riegler. He belongs to a group of people whose mission is to help any stranded motorists they encounter. All of the group’s vehicles are specially equipped to rescue and/or push disabled vehicles.
The group’s members are all volunteers. Why do they commit to helping the way they do? They know that the police and other emergency personnel have enough to do already, and this relieves a bit of their burden. “We don’t do it for glory and we don’t take money. We do it because it is something that needs to be done. People are amazed that we stop and render assistance and more amazed when they find out we don’t take gifts for it,” Riegler said.
Joanne Pingor was touched by the event. “I just couldn’t believe someone would take all that time and effort to give us so much help,” she said. “I grew up believing that people were basically good but you just don’t see it in so many cases. I did that day.”