Woman awarded for saving friend’s life

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- A Shawnee woman stopped to help, who she thought, was a complete stranger -- and she found out it was her friend who'd been hit by a car.

Lee Helfrich was walking her dog on Dec. 30 along Midland Drive near Interstate 435 when she was reportedly hit by a car going the wrong way.

The driver reportedly kept going, despite a large hole in the windshield.

"It's hard to fathom that you can not tell you have a hole in your windshield -- over the size of a basketball."

Helfrich was hit with so much force she was actually knocked out of her shoes -- which landed some 30 feet away from where she lied in the road.

Tom Van Pelt and his wife, Cindy, have been good friends with Lee for many years. Cindy was the one who found Helfrich lying on the side of the road in very bad shape.

"It was forty minutes after she had been laying there, approximately 40 minutes."

On Friday, Cindy Van Pelt was given an award from the Shawnee Police Department for her courage in rescuing Lee.

"Nice to be recognized for what I saw.  No one wants to ever see something like that," Cindy said.

"I'm just glad to be here...to be alive.  I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Cindy," Helfrich said.

The two say these last few months have been terribly difficult, but they're grateful they have each other.

The man who was driving the car that hit Lee reportedly has not been charged so far. Cindy Van Pelt's husband says he was told the driver was a person in their 40s with the mental capacity of someone much younger.

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