One night as Josh Tangedahl and his girlfriend were heading home, he had one thing on his mind—he needed to get back fast or else he’d miss his curfew. Three months earlier, Tangedahl was released from prison after serving 17 years for manslaughter. He was out on a work release, but if he violated his curfew, he would be put back in prison.
Just as he noticed he had a few minutes to spare, Tangedahl and his girlfriend witnessed a horrific car crash.
Tangedahl had spotted a car driving “erratically” so he told his girlfriend to follow it.
The couple saw the car fly through an intersection at “50 to 60 mph” and slam into a family’s van. Almost immediately Tangedahl was out of his car and heading towards the scene, and he didn’t even think twice about the possibility of missing his curfew.
“I just reacted,” he told KHQ. “I did what I thought was the right thing.”
When he got to the crushed van he heard a baby cry, but he couldn’t tell where it was coming from. He took a closer look inside the van and found a woman pinned down, a man drifting in and out of consciousness, and a baby still in its car seat.
He didn’t think twice about his curfew—he did what he thought was the right thing to do.
He knew he had to help the baby first. The child was upside down in its car seat and partially hanging out of the harness.
“It was terrifying,” he said of the scene.
Once the child was safe in the hands of a nearby security guard who was also on the scene, Tangedahl rushed to free the little boy’s parents. Miraculously, all of the passengers survived the crash.
Following the accident, Tangedahl visited the family in the hospital—he wanted to make sure they were doing all right. Although he doesn’t feel he deserves to be called a hero, the family he saved and even the Washington State Department of Corrections commended him on his actions.
“Mr. Tangehahl risked his freedom for another person—seven-month-old Dante Rose. The Washington State Department of Corrections values and acknowledges that people have the need and ability to grow and change, and we support their endeavors,” they wrote on their Facebook page.