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Woman Has Emotional Reunion with Hero Who Saved Her Life in 1997 Accident That Killed Her Mom

Rebecca Anderson met her rescuer, Daniel Mena, for the first time earlier this week — nearly 27 years after he pulled her from a burning car

  • Rebecca Anderson and Daniel Mena met for the first time earlier this week, nearly 27 years after the off-duty police officer pulled the woman from a burning vehicle

  • Linda Wageman, Anderson's mother, did not survive the crash

  • Anderson and Mena connected last month after Mena sent a letter to Anderson and revealed himself as the man who saved her life

A man who saved a woman from a burning car in Southern California 27 years ago has reunited with her for the first time since the fatal crash.

Rebecca Anderson and her mother, Linda Wageman, were traveling through North Hills on Oct. 14, 1997, when the vehicle they were in was hit by a car attempting to evade police, according to Los Angeles news station KTLA.

Anderson, who was 25 at the time of the crash, told KABC-TV that she and Wageman “had just dropped a friend off” when they were “struck out of nowhere.”

The car burst into flames after the crash, per the reports. Wageman did not survive, but Anderson was saved by a man who witnessed the incident.

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Anderson had not seen that man, police officer Daniel Mena, since the day of the crash. It wasn't until earlier this week that they reunited for the first time in nearly three decades.

“I don’t know how else to thank you,” Anderson tearfully told Mena at the meeting, according to KTLA.

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Anderson learned about Mena’s heroics in February after the retired police officer tracked down her address and sent her a letter revealing he was the person who saved her life that night, KTLA and KABC-TV reported.

Before then, Anderson had assumed first responders saved her life. “I was unconscious so I don’t remember too much of what happened,” she told KTLA.

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Mena said he pulled the woman from the wreckage and “dragged her into the liquor store” nearby before attempting to save Wageman.

“I tried getting the mother out, but it got too hot, I just couldn’t do it,” he added.

It took Anderson a week to call Mena, who then explained “the whole story” about the night he rescued her, according to KABC-TV. They then agreed to meet, and followed through earlier this week.

Related: Paralyzed Man Saved from Burning Car by Stranger Gets a Chance to Say Thank You: 'His Angel'

Anderson wore a special yellow t-shirt to her meeting with Mena, which featured Mena’s name, the date of the crash etched into a silver heart with angel wings and the phrase “God Sent Me An Angel On This Day.”

“I thought that it would be special as something for me to hold onto as a memory,” she said, noting that she would like to get Mena a shirt as well.

Both Anderson and Mena said they plan to meet again in the future, per the reports.

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