First responders get a ‘thank you’ that took 17 years to deliver

After nearly two decades of writing "thank you" notes to the rescue squad that saved their daughter's life, this family finally met the men who responded to the crash.

WASHINGTON — There’s no expiration date on gratitude when you believe someone saved your child’s life. That’s why Kelly Lang was delighted to finally meet the men who responded to a wreck that nearly killed one of her daughters 17 years ago.

On the misty evening of Nov. 27, 2001, a reckless driver rear-ended the family’s minivan, crushing the back half of the vehicle like an accordion. The crash was so traumatic, Lang can’t remember what she saw that day — only the sounds of the Loudoun County, Virginia, paramedics stuck with her.

“We’ve always wondered who was at the scene,” Lang said of the wreck on Route 7 in Leesburg, Virginia.

The wreck nearly killed her then three-year-old daughter Olivia. “Olivia was code blue; she was not breathing at the scene.”

The crash left her with a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury. Olivia fell into a coma and was hospitalized for more than a month. Lang and daughter Hannah, who was five at the time, were less seriously injured.

“Every year we’ve done something for the rescue squad, and Olivia usually writes them a personal thank you note,” Lang said.

This year, Olivia’s note got noticed by a visiting Battalion Chief, who recognized some of the details. He then reached out to Lang and arranged a reunion.

The reunion took place on Thursday and involved two career firefighters, Sean Scott and Daniel Neal, who responded to the crash on that foggy, misty night. Both men are now Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management Battalion Chiefs working opposite sides of the county.

“It was a wonderful experience having the opportunity to meet Olivia and her family so many years after her accident. The fact that she has done so well and overcome the associated challenges speaks to her positive personality and will to excel,” Scott said. “It was great for all of us to see.”

Lang said she knows the wreck’s outcome could have been different — but help arrived quickly, the first responders knew what to do and they got Olivia to the hospital quickly.

“We are eternally grateful for that,” Lang said.

The reunion, Lang said, was very emotional — in a good way.

“Olivia and I definitely cried,” Lang said. “It was wonderful.”

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