As soon as Geek Squad Agents Thomas Willis and Lucas Wilt entered the hospital room, the woman’s face lit up with excitement.
“My heroes!” she exclaimed. Then she asked for a hug, and the Agents were more than happy to oblige.
The last time they saw one another, the Agents were saving the woman from a fiery crash on the back roads of southwestern Virginia. She was badly injured and had to be airlifted to the hospital. Now, she’s expected to make a full recovery.
That reunion was the best holiday gift the Agents could receive.
“It was a huge relief to know that she was doing OK and should be able to return to a normal lifestyle,” Agent Willis said. “This is about as good of an outcome as I could have hoped for and better than I was expecting, to be honest. It’s great to know the story has a happy ending.”
Curiosity leads to rescue
On Oct. 10, Agents Willis and Wilt had finished their last job of the day earlier than expected. They were driving back to the Best Buy store in Christiansburg, Virginia, when they passed some debris on the road and noticed what appeared to be a damaged tree. Something was amiss.
They turned around to investigate. That’s when they saw smoke coming from a silver minivan about 25 yards down the embankment.
Agent Willis, 29, raced down the hill while Agent Wilt called 911. Agent Willis found an elderly woman lying next to the burning vehicle. She was conscious but badly injured and bleeding.
By then, the whole front end of the van was on fire. Agent Willis picked her up — “just like a groom picks up a bride when they get married,” he says — and carried her up the steep embankment.
“About that time, the fire hit the gas tank,” he said. “It wasn’t exactly like the movies make it out to be, but it was a large explosion.”
The Agents and other bystanders stayed with the woman, helping to keep her calm and alert until first responders arrived 15 to 20 minutes later.
‘We both started shaking’
The reality of the situation started to sink in when the Agents got back in their Geek Squad van to drive the 30 minutes back to their store.
They realized how fortunate they were to be in the right spot at the right time. After all, they were headed home hours earlier than expected on a road they seldom travel. And, oddly enough, they had just been talking about car crashes when they saw the debris on the road.
“We both started shaking a little bit,” said Agent Wilt, 24. “If our job hadn’t ended early and we hadn’t been talking about accidents, we probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it and just kept driving by. It’s scary to think about what could have happened.”
Agent Willis said he’s not sure whether that was mere coincidence or fate, but he’s thankful everything worked out the way it did.
“When you take a step back and think about it, it does become a little bit more crazy and unbelievable,” he said. “But at the time, you’re not thinking, ‘I’m going to do something heroic.’ Your instincts just kick in. I didn’t really think about the potential consequences of what could happen. I just went.”
Montgomery County, Virginia, recently recognized Agents Willis and Wilt with Citizen Hero Awards for their efforts. But both men believe anyone would have done the same thing in their position.
“Any Geek Squad Agent I know would have,” Agent Willis said. “We genuinely care and want to help people, although not normally in that manner. It’s part of our values.”