AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman who helped strangers after a car barreled through crowds of people during South by Southwest spoke about a night she will never forget.
Selenia Rios was only a few feet away from the crash, and helped Gracie Nguyen until first responders showed up.
Nguyen is now in the intensive care unit at University Medical Center Brackenridge, and was placed in a coma due to head injuries she sustained.
Rios and a friend were just leaving a show at The Mohawk when the crash happened.
“There was just bodies on the ground and it was like time stood still,” she said.
Rios ran over to help Gracie by checking her pulse and holding her head until medics arrived.
For days after the crash, Rios says she couldn’t sleep. She kept wanting to know if the stranger she helped was still alive.
“I didn’t know who she was and I kept seeing her in my head, and she was so little,” said Rios.
A few days later Rios was able to find out more about Gracie through a donation page set up to help Nguyen’s recovery.
Gracie Nguyen was visiting SXSW from Houston, where she works as a pastry chef. The 23-year-old single mother has undergone several surgeries and suffered from fractures to her skull, left leg, and right knee.
Rios is now in the process of organizing her own benefit for victims of the SXSW crash, and plans to give the proceeds to SXSWcares. She says giving back is the only way she has been able to cope with what she saw.
“Anything I can do on my end I’m trying to do to help her,” said Rios. “She impacted me and I’m very grateful she is hanging on.”
So far the donation site for Gracie Nguyen has raised nearly $25,000 for her recovery.
If you would like to donate to all SXSW victims click here.
For Rios, the crash at SXSW has changed her life forever.
“It’s amazing how people can be affected by someone you don’t know,” Rios said. “She definitely touched my heart.”