When one woman crashed her car on a country road, the force of the impact knocked her out. As she came round, though, she felt something licking her face. And when she opened her eyes, she saw the culprit: a mysterious stray dog by her side.
Shannon Lorio was born and raised in South Georgia and in 2007 was living in the area with her husband. “It’s basically a quiet area,” she said of her home in a 2010 interview with television show Heroes Among Us. “Everybody kinda sticks to themselves.”
Plus, the region has a lot of open roads on which to escape when the desire arises. Indeed, Lorio liked nothing more than taking off in her car sometimes. “The roads are real curvy [and] winding,” she explained. “And there’s a lot of woods.”
So one day, after an argument with her husband, Lorio went for a drive to blow off some steam. And perhaps her emotions got the better of her, as she subsequently admitted that she had been speeding as she whizzed down the so-called “NASCAR Road.”
That stretch of road is particularly bendy, but Lorio had nevertheless been managing to keep control of her car. However, when she hit a particularly bad curve, she felt her vehicle fishtail.
Before she knew it, the force of the crash had hurled her partially through the rear window of the vehicle. She and the car landed in a ditch by the side of the road – completely out of sight of any passing motorists.
“When I came to, I was in the back of the car,” Lorio revealed. “The bottom part of my body was laying in the back seat and my torso area was cornered onto the back of the trunk. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened.”
Naturally, Lorio began to panic. She was in an immense amount of pain and couldn’t see how she was going to get herself to safety. All she could do now was lie in the grass and pray that someone would find her.
“I was bleeding from my face and my nose,” Lorio told NBC News in 2007. “All of a sudden, I felt a presence — a really huge presence. He was straddling me. I have watched too many horror movies about werewolves and vampires. I thought he was going to eat me.”
That presence was, however, actually a large stray dog. The German Shepherd had approached from nowhere – and Lorio wasn’t sure how he would react to her. It was then, though, that the animal began to lick her face. It was almost as if he was trying to reassure her that everything would be okay.
“The dog, I don’t know him,” Lorio said in her interview on Heroes Among Us. “Never seen him. I don’t know if he was making his rounds, if he was heading back to his original owner. I don’t know, but he came across me and I thank God that he did.”
It appears that, upon seeing Lorio in her desperate state, the dog’s protective instinct kicked in. Seemingly without a thought for himself, he jumped into the car wreckage to be beside her. Then, incredibly, he actually began to pull Lorio out from the back of her car.
Specifically, the dog gripped onto Lorio’s jacket as he pulled her to safety. “He literally tugged and he pulled. He wouldn’t give up,” she said in her emotional television interview. “That dog had more drive for life at that point than I did.”
Finally, the dog had managed to drag Lorio to the side of the road. And when they got there, she knew this was her opportunity to make herself seen. Somehow, she pulled herself to her feet and then managed to hail down a passing car.
The next thing Lorio knew, she was waking up in hospital. There, doctors discovered that she had a bleed on the brain. Thankfully, however, the bleed was not so severe that she needed surgery, and Lorio was soon able to return home to recover.
Lorio had no doubt about how lucky she was to have had that mysterious dog stumble across her. “He did everything,” she said. “He’s an amazing animal, he really is. I honestly believe, in my heart, that if he hadn’t [found me] I probably wouldn’t even be here today.”
Meanwhile, after saving Lorio, the dog was taken in by the Humane Society. Once he was there, moreover, staff decided that only one name was suitable for the German shepherd. So they decided to name him “Hero,” in honor of his feat.
Although Lorio would have liked to have given Hero a home, she already had six dogs of her own. But she told NBC that she would forever be in his debt. “That dog is always going to have a special place in my heart. He’s my hero,” she said.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, before long more than 50 people had shown an interest in adopting Hero. And among them was search-and-rescue dog trainer Heidy Drawdy. Drawdy had spotted potential in the dog and thought he’d make a great addition to any rescue team.
And in the end, Drawdy did end up adopting Hero and soon got to work training him up for wilderness rescue. So while Lorio might have been the first person Hero saved, it looks like she won’t be the last.