Angel Mulu was travelling in a car with her sister and good mate when they saw the aftermath of a horrific three car pile up in Tauranga and knew they had to turn around.

Emergency services were yet to arrive when they came across Margaret Gundersen trapped in the wreck on Fraser St.

The teenager and her older sister Karina, 26, flanked Gundersen on either side of the driver's seat and turned on a phone light.

"I was shaking," Mulu said.

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Blood was everywhere, pooling on the car floor.

Instinctively the 19-year-old, who plays for the Bay of Plenty Volcanix women's rugby team, grabbed Gundersen's hand.

Angel Mulu, who went to the assistance of Margaret Gundersen after a car crash. Photo / Supplied
Angel Mulu, who went to the assistance of Margaret Gundersen after a car crash. Photo / Supplied

"We were trying to wake her up, she was faintly breathing and then out of nowhere she just stopped," Mulu said.

Unsure of what to do the sisters screamed for help, but the handful of others on the scene were calling emergency services and trying to deal with the other vehicles.

In that moment Mulu thought a stranger was going to die in her hands.

"I have never been to anything like this."

It was terrifying but she said she knew she had to do something.

Mulu kept telling Gundersen to wake up, gently tapping her chest.

Margaret Gundersen, who was critically injured in a car smash. Photo / file.
Margaret Gundersen, who was critically injured in a car smash. Photo / file.

When Gundersen came to the first thing she asked about was the other driver, Mulu said.

The 19-year-old told her to not to worry and said that she had been in a serious car accident needed to stay still.

Gundersen then panicked that she needed to get her grandson.

The group became fearful another person might be unseen to them having been flung from the car.

But Gundersen explained she had been driving to pick her grandson Andre up from the army cadets when the crash happened.

Karina and friend Sela Moataane, who plays rugby with Mulu, drove off to find Andre.

Gundersen suddenly stopped breathing again.

When she came back for the second time it was a moment of "pure relief".

"She asked for my name.... and then she asked if I was a real angel.

"We were holding hands the whole time. She couldn't open her eyes."

Mulu promised Gundersen she would not leave her side.

"You're not going anywhere soon. I've got you," she had told her.

The public response and gratitude from the family had been "overwhelming" as she put her actions down pure instinct.

"Help was too far away. I needed to kick into gear."

The car Margaret Gundersen was in when it was hit. Photo / supplied.
The car Margaret Gundersen was in when it was hit. Photo / supplied.

Gundersen is now in a medically induced coma, fighting for her life after breaking her neck, back and ribs.

She also has a hemothorax (a collection of blood in the space between the chest wall and the lung), and is fighting off an infection.

Mulu hopes to meet her again soon.

"I feel like there always be a connection."