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Mother reunites with good samaritan after 19 years

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BATON ROUGE - The mother of an 11-week-old baby and the man who tried to save her after a horrific crash reunited for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Rachel Deville and her family were traveling in Ascension Parish back in 1994 when they were rear-ended. On that day, an unidentified trucker stopped at the scene and tried to save a baby involved in the wreck. 

Family members said Brittney Deville was just beginning to smile when a man who was drinking hit their car. Stanley White was convicted and sentenced, but never served a day of that sentence.

"Hi! How are you," Rachel Deville said as she fought back tears.  It happened as she met Mike Christen for the first time. 

"I'm so sorry to hear about Brittney," Christen said.

Christen saw a news story recently and it brought back painful memories of a day nearly 20 years ago. He was driving an 18-wheeler on Airline Highway southbound in Gonzales, when he came across a mangled car.

"I ran across the accident scene," Christen said. "It had just happened. People were just getting out of the cars. So I pulled over by the median side of the road and threw on my flashers."

Christen immediately tried to help the people involved in the crash, and that included little Brittney Deville.

"I started massaging her chest and doing light compressions for CPR," Christen said. "For a baby you've got to be gentle. Suddenly, I heard a gasp and she started crying. It made me feel good at the time, the baby has a chance now."

Christen couldnt' be late with his delivery, so he left after paramedics took control of the scene. But, Christen never forgot the family and the child he tried to save. He called the hospital periodically in the days following, checking up on Brittney. He learned from a nurse, she died from injuries in the crash.

"I've got to give you another hug," Christen said.

"Thank you so much. Thank you for doing what you did. You did what you could under those circumstances," Deville told Christen.

As the tears of gratitude flowed from Brittney's mother, she knows she has another fight brewing in court. She learned this year, Stanley White, the man who plead guilty to negligent homicide for killing her daughter never served a day of his two year prison sentence. The State Attorney General's Office is now involved and filed a motion in court to force White to serve his sentence. The Ascension Parish District Attorney and a Judge recused themselves from the case this month. 

As Deville gears up to face her daughter's killer, she's taking things one day at a time and turning to her faith for the blessings she has now.

"The Lord has given me patience," Deville said. "I think the wait will be fruitful, and I think he will give us victory in this."

It's just like the victory of meeting the good Samaritan who stopped to help her family in the time of their greatest need.

"We've thought about him for a long time. I always wanted to meet him to tell him thank you for giving us that extra time we did have with Brittney," Deville said.

Deville and Christen said they have so much in common they will be friends for life. Already, they are planning their first get together, a family gathering at Christen's house in French Settlement.

All sides are due in court for this case on Friday.


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