NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — An Avon teen’s family is asking for prayers and encouragement as the high school cheerleader recovers from serious injuries suffered in a Monday night crash. Police say a good Samaritan pulled the girl out of the vehicle minutes before it was fully engulfed in flames.
“Thank you, God bless you and I hope you become an example and you are an example for anybody else that comes across any situation to help,” said Michael Broukzam.
Broukzam hired 16-year-old Emily Culkar to work at North Ridge Racket and Paddle.
“She just fit right in, just very cheerful, which is our biggest thing,” the owner said of the teen. “You have to be cheerful, welcoming. Those are my requirements to hire somebody.”
Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday, Culkar was riding in a car with an 18-year-old driver through the Cleveland MetroParks Bradley Woods Reservation in Westlake. He lost control of the vehicle on a curve of White Oak Lane. The car veered off the road, rolled over and hit a tree.
Investigators say several witnesses pulled over to help and helped pull out Culkar, who was trapped inside. Incident reports say the driver did not appear to be seriously injured, but Culkar was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.
“It just brings me chills right now,” Broukzam said.
He explained he’s been in contact with Culkar’s family since the crash and has learned the teen is slowly recovering.
“Her mom reached out with her message: 'Hey, any prayers would be appreciated,’” he said.
Broukzam sent a message to his network of customers and clubs, asking for prayers and support for his employee. His wife offered the idea of a drop box for notes in the main lobby. He said they have received numerous responses and cards for Culkar.
“We’re simply trying to pass it forward [with] prayers, wishes, any kind of positive thoughts that would motivate this 16-year-old girl to move forward,” he explained.
One of Culkar’s nurses told Broukzam the outpouring of support has worked wonders for healing the teen’s spirit and she also makes physical progress.
“The first day she was able to open and look at her phone, social media, her sensors she’s tied to went off, the EKG alarms went off. And the nurses ran in because of the impact it gave Emily, as far as emotionally, when she read some of the stuff that people posted for her,” Broukzam said.
Culkar’s family offered a statement of thanks for the encouragement:
Emily’s parents, sisters and brothers want to express our heartfelt thanks to all our friends and families, and our extended families at Avon High School and North Ridge Racket & Paddle.
We are grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of support.
To all those who touched Emily this week, your hands have literally been hands of healing.
Starting with the Cleveland Metro Parks Police, Westlake Fire and Police forces, St John’s Westshore Hospital Emergency Staff, Life Flight staff and pilot and to the UH Trauma and SICU nurses and doctors, ours is an unwavering state of awe and admiration.
But the biggest thanks, the humbling and indebted gratitude goes to the young Good Samaritan who ran into the flames and pulled our Emily from that burning car.
You are the true hero.
Your unselfish actions were incredibly pure and praiseworthy.
Because of your humanity, a certain tragedy was averted and a loving family remains whole.
Wherever you are, thank you for being Emily’s guardian angel.
We would also like to send healing and prayers to Emily's friend Hayden who was in the car with her.
Broukzam encourages anyone who feels inclined to drop off notes of encouragement or send them to:
North Ridge Racket and Paddle
5475 Mills Creek Ln N
North Ridgeville, OH 44039
Cleveland Metroparks police are investigating Monday night’s crash.
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