RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Time now for StoryCorps. Earlier this year, we aired a story about two families that came together after a car accident.
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MEGIDDEH GOLDSTON: Raphael, you could easily be still in that hospital bed, angry, like, screaming at the world.
RAPHAEL HAMEED: Nah, we love; that's how we roll.
MONTAGNE: That story of forgiveness led to another StoryCorps interview. A listener named Jeff Wilson heard that conversation and was reminded of something that happened to him in high school in 1984. He was driving to school when the sun got in his eyes and he hit another student as she was crossing the street. Jeff shared his story in an online comment, and StoryCorps suggested they do an interview together. So Jeff and the woman he hit with his car 30 years ago, Tammie Baird, came to StoryCorps in San Francisco. They had exchanged emails, but this was the first time they'd seen each other since high school.
EWAN WILSON: I saw something fly over the hood of my car. And then I saw you lying there, and I pulled over and, you know, got out, and you were unconscious. I was absolutely sure that I had killed you. And then for a few days after that I really did not want to live. I just felt like dirt. But I called to find out how you were, and I remember speaking with your dad. And he could've just been irate and angry - and I was prepared for that because I felt that's what I deserved - but I told him how sorry I was, and he said I know what you're going through because I went through that same thing when he was about my age. He'd hit a child that had run into the street after a ball and got really hurt. He said that he forgave me, and I'm forever grateful for that.
TAMMIE BAIRD: I'm glad that that day he answered the phone because he was just so kind, and he didn't hold grudges. I'm surprised, honestly, he didn't make you come over for dinner.
WILSON: No, I didn't know you when I hit you.
WILSON: If I saw you, I'd be like, oh, God, that's the person I hit. I don't want to deal with this.
BAIRD: So did you think it was crazy when 20-something years later, out of the blue, I just send you this email?
WILSON: Yeah. I opened it up, and the first thing you said is, you may have been the first person to hit me with your car, but you weren't the last.
BAIRD: Yeah (laughter). I became a stunt woman. And now what I'm known for in my industry is car hits. I just really felt like I had to let you know that.
WILSON: I'm so glad you did.
BAIRD: You know, people will say things like wow, you do car hits. How did you get so good at it? Oh, well, this guy hit me my freshman year walking to school.
WILSON: The fact that you made something good out of it, it just amazes me. It really does. And it's just kind of this beautiful symmetry because I'm a surgical technician and I do a lot of orthopedic surgery, so I see a lot of people that come in from car accidents. And it gives me a great deal of satisfaction feeling like I'm helping people and putting people back together.
BAIRD: That's awesome.
WILSON: But I'm, you know, forever sorry.
BAIRD: But I hope now you won't be.
WILSON: It's spectacular to be able to make this connection after so many years. It really blows me away.
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MONTAGNE: Jeff Wilson with his former classmate Tammie Baird at StoryCorps in San Francisco. Their interview will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Hear the podcast at iTunes and at npr.org.
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