Utah Blaze receiver Aaron Lesue has good hands. Figure skater Brianna Hatch has been known to spin, but never like what happened to her the afternoon of April 24 on I-15 near Thanksgiving Point.
Lesue helped Hatch escape from a smoldering wreck after her SUV spun 2½ times, somehow avoiding other vehicles. Out of that near tragedy has sprung a friendship.
“It only hurts when I breathe,” said Hatch, a visual arts major who was en route to BYU to complete her last final exam. “I didn’t get out of that [final].”
Despite her good humor, Hatch continues to recover from her injuries, both physical and mental.
“I was awake the whole time,” she said. “It’s a memory I can’t forget and cannot shake. As I hit the barrier, I felt a voice in my head say, ‘Go limp.’ It was so strong and so clear I relaxed my body and I didn’t sustain any more injuries.”
A car swerved in front of Hatch’s SUV. According to the Utah Highway Patrol accident report, Hatch overcorrected to the right in an effort to avoid a collision.
The SUV tumbled down the interstate before landing on its roof, smoke rising from a small fire in the engine.
Lesue (pronounced Le Sway) and several others hurried to the smoldering SUV, forcing open the door. Hatch, hanging upside-down by her seat belt, suffered injuries to her shoulder, sternum and rib cage.
Another man had a fire extinguisher that Lesue used to stop the fire.
“It went from being a great day to hoping this girl didn’t die in my arms,” Lesue said. “It was a real eye-opener. I needed the experience. It helped me.
“It was just an immediate reaction, not that I was overqualified. I just did the best I could. It was scary for her and even myself.”
And, “It was nice,” he added, “to see other people [in an emergency] willing to stop and help. Even when it started to catch fire.”
Hatch immediately latched onto Lesue’s hand and didn’t let go until the paramedics arrived. Hatch also remembered that an unknown couple stayed with her all the way to American Fork Hospital.
Since the accident, Hatch and Lesue have remained in touch through Facebook and texting. He even gave her a football at a recent Blaze contest in the EnergySolutions Arena.
Hatch, a former U.S. amateur figure skater who teaches skating at BYU as well as Utah Valley, must put off competing as a professional until her injuries heal. She still has a hairline fracture of the ribs.
“I definitely made a new friend,” Hatch said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Said Lesue: “New friend, two athletes — that was pretty cool. It turned out all right because of the way everything ended up. We’ve become great friends. Her mom wrote me a great message.”