NEW PORT RICHEY — Amanda Rothberg and her friend Carmen Garcia were watching a Lifetime movie about a car accident Tuesday afternoon when they heard a commotion outside.
"It sounded like a loud boom," Rothberg said.
Rothberg ran outside to see what happened. She saw a car with its front end rammed through the next-door neighbor's back wall.
"Did you call 911?" she asked as she ran inside.
Garcia, 45, a former paramedic and nurse, ran outside. Her training took over. She tried to use a cast on her arm to pull open the car door and get to the woman inside. But that didn't work. "I knew the Jaws of Life would be needed," she said.
She reached through the window and felt for a pulse. She got a faint one. The woman was breathing, but very shallowly.
"I told her Jesus loves you, God loves you. Stay with me," Garcia said. But the pulse faded. When rescue crews arrived a short time later, Garcia told the person in charge that she thought the woman was dead.
The driver, Janet Lucy Weiss, 66, of New Port Richey, died at the scene. It appeared Weiss "experienced a medical emergency" that caused her to lose control of her Mercury Grand Marquis and veer off the road, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
As crews tried to help Weiss, Garcia turned her attention to her neighbor, Don Evans. He lay trapped beneath his kitchen counter where the car smashed into his condo at 8551 Pilgrim Court, in the Viceroy Condominium complex, off Old County Road 54.
"I can't say enough about what a good job the 911 responders did," Garcia said.
Garcia and the rescue crews were able to free Evans, 70, who was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. Evans, who has Parkinson's disease, suffered bruises on his back, and a bruised kidney. He is expected to be released in a few days.
"He's fighting to come home now," Garcia said. "He wants to make sure his cats are okay."
Evans and his wife, Michelle, have six cats. Garcia said she has lived next door about two years and described them as a nice couple. They visit often and help the neighborhood decorate for Christmas.
Rothberg, 31, who comforted Mrs. Evans while crews worked to free her husband, went inside later to make sure no cats were trapped.
"All the cats are accounted for," she said.