Baby and firefighter reunited after picture goes viral
Whittley Hightower met Cpt. Chris Blazek when she was involved in a crash with her three children nearly a week ago.
On Thursday, a mother got to thank the firefighter in a picture captured with her baby that has been shared by thousands online.
Whittley Hightower met Chattanooga Fire Department Captain Chris Blazek when she was involved in a crash with her three children nearly a week ago.
Hightower says the accident itself was terrifying and still haunts her, but she says her family has expanded because of it, thanks to Cpt. Blazek's comforting actions to her three girls, especially one-year-old Tionne.
It's been nearly a week since Hightower and her three girls have seen the man she calls "an angel in disguise."
“He’s like my best friend now. I made a new friend; a good new friend,” said Hightower.
The picture of Cpt. Blazek and one-year-old Tionne has been shared nationwide.
Hightower says it melts her heart every time she sees it, but it also reminds her of what she says was one of the scariest days of her life.
“Why would he hit me? Why would he run? What was he doing at the time? Was he on his phone? Sometimes I wake up and I cry.”
Hightower, who is four months pregnant, was driving on Highway 58 with her three girls late Saturday afternoon. She stopped at a red light, and a driver in a pickup truck rear-ended her then drove to a nearby Taco Bell where he parked.
Hightower immediately called 911.
Chattanooga police say the driver, 54-year-old Zachary Scott, was drunk. Scott was charged with reckless aggravated assault, driving under the influence, drivers to exercise due care, and no proof of insurance.
"I was just worried about my babies, making sure they were okay,” said Hightower. “Everybody started crying hysterically and the fire department was there.”
Cpt. Blazek was among the firefighters that responded.
“The first thing he did was ask me if I was okay. [He] opened up the car door and asked the kids if they were okay. He was totally focused on the kids,” said Hightower.
Cpt. Blazek, who is a father of four girls, says as soon as he heard baby Tionne's cries he held her, and she melted in his arms.
“It’s just parental instinct. It just knowing that the kids needed somebody to talk to,” said. Cpt. Blazek. “To us this is just what we do. This is our job. This is what we’re called to do. This is where our hearts are.”
Hightower says she has some aches and pains, but she and her baby are healthy.