Margaret Gundersen was driving to pick up her grandson, Andre, from the army cadets when her vehicle was T-boned by another in a serious crash.
As she lay battered, broken and trapped in the wreck, a stranger held her hand until help arrived.
"Everything was okay," a frightened young woman reassured Gundersen. "You're not going anywhere soon. I've got you."
While Gundersen is in a medically induced coma, fighting for her life after breaking her neck, back and ribs, her daughter, Sheree, has been keeping vigil at her hospital bedside.
Her thoughts have been on four strangers who stopped to help her mum after the horror smash on Fraser St in Tauranga on May 2, which involved a black Ford Ranger, a black Mazda Premacy van and a third vehicle.
"We will forever hold them in our hearts," Sheree said.
It meant so much to her, twin sister Heather and older sister Debbie that someone had been there for their mum, she said.
Sheree made a public plea on Facebook to track down the woman her mum, a house manager at Holy Trinity Church, had called "her angel".
The family had been surprised to learn that was the good Samaritan's actual name.
After publishing a public plea on Facebook Sheree found Angel Mulu, who not only held Gundersen's hand but had woken her up after she stopped breathing.
While Mulu comforted Gundersen at the crash scene Mulu's sister, Karina, and friend, Sela, drove to the army cadets to offer Andre a ride.
"My mum would have been panicking and worried about my son. To know that they had gone to do that, that would have helped my mum so much," Sheree said.
Another motorist, Leon Searle, was the first at the scene and smashed the back window to allow some of the dust from the airbags to escape.
"While he was doing that he noticed that the Ford Ranger was smoking so he ran over there to disconnect the battery," Sheree said.
"Like a true hero he has burnt his hands and arms as a result but then he has gone straight back to monitor my mum.
"She was really sleepy and couldn't breathe. She was in a pool of her own blood."
The whole family has stood back and realised Gundersen was the glue of the family, and felt indebted to all the people who had helped her, Sheree said.
"They are heroes."
Sheree said she believed her mother was not at fault for the crash, rejecting suggestions she may have suffered a medical event before the crash.
"She helps everyone. She didn't deserve this," Sheree said. "She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is a horrible time for all of us."
Gundersen was stable but had a haemothorax (a collection of blood in the space between the chest wall and the lung), seven broken ribs and is battling an infection.
She had a long way to go and will need to wear a halo brace while recovering.
"The staff [at the ICU] have been phenomenal," she said.
The Serious Crash Unit is investigating and police continue to appeal for information about the incident.