KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 23-year-old Independence man is dead after a tire came crashing through his windshield and caused him to crash Tuesday night.
Family members say Nicolas Melvin was a shining light: always smiling, always having a good time with the ones he loved.
"He was a very kind and loving man. He was always encouraging everyone and making us feel happy. He had a beautiful soul,” said 20-year-old Laura Bass about her boyfriend of almost two years.
"He was an amazing, optimistic person. He loved sports, art, cooking and so much more. He was everybody's big brother," said a beaming Kristen Melvin about her son.
Bass says over the weekend she and Nick couldn't spend the Fourth of July together, so on Monday night they had a wonderful time, enjoying dinner in Westport.
"We were always trying new things and so we had great food trying out a new restaurant, and he had a great time. He was very happy that night," said Bass.
Just after nine that evening the couple was riding home to Independence, heading eastbound on Interstate 70 near the Blue Ride Cutoff in Kansas City when all of a sudden Laura says a nightmarish moment happened right before their eyes.
"We were just talking, he was driving, and the next thing I saw this tire flew through the windshield and hit him," Bass recalls as she wipes away tears.
She says a tire dislodged from a westbound vehicle, possibly a trailer, flew over a concrete barrier, smashed into her car's windshield and hit Nick in his face and forehead, knocking him out.
“He was bleeding everywhere and I saw he had a six or seven inch gash on his forehead, so I immediately grabbed a shirt from under my feet and put it on his forehead," said Laura.
An unconscious Nick was slumped over behind the wheel so a frantic Bass struggled to take control of her car that veered off the right side of the interstate and crashed into a tree line.
"So, I just had to sit there, hold him the whole time and tell him how much I loved him and that he's a strong man, and we're gonna get through this, " Bass said.
Nick suffered severe injuries and on Tuesday he died at the hospital. Bass was treated at the hospital and released.
"I just cannot believe it. He's gone and I'm still here. It happened so fast. He saved my life and that's why he's my hero. I stayed at the hospital and was with him when he took his last breath," said Laura, about who she calls her soul-mate and who she dreamed of marrying.
“He was an organ donor and he's already saved three lives with his kidneys and his heart valves. I'm very proud of him, so in my eyes he's an angel and a hero," Kristen Melvin said about her son, who was the oldest of three.
Relatives tell FOX 4 Nick worked as a Direct-TV cable salesman at the Costco in Independence and he also was a prep-cook at the Lee's Summit Grill and Bar.
An account has been set up on GOFUNDME to assist his family with funeral expenses.
Meantime, police ask anyone who knows anything about the unusual tire accident to call the Kansas City Police Department or the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS.
"I can't touch him anymore and that's sad. It hurts and it's unreal, but I'm comforted because I can still feel his spirit," said Kristen Melvin about her son.