HILLSIDE, N.J. (AP) — It’s been a little over month, and Rose DiMeo still can’t say enough about an R&B legend who is responsible for her son being alive.
Ted Wizard Mills, the original lead singer of R&B group Blue Magic, pulled her 20-year-old son, Joseph, from his car before it burst into flames July 14 on Route 22 in Hillside.
“He’s my son’s angel,” said DiMeo, a Clark resident.
“Because of him, he’s still here,” she said.
Since the accident, DiMeo said her son is in critical condition and has had multiple skin graft surgeries for severe burns at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.
Police Chief Vincent Ricciardi said a preliminary investigation determined the 2013 Dodge Charger was being driven eastbound at a high rate of speed just prior to the driver losing control, striking the curb and then striking a utility pole which caused the vehicle to overturn and catch fire.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
“I knew it was somebody trapped in there and needed help getting out,” said Mills, a Summit resident. “It was flipping in the direction that I was driving.”
When the car stopped, Mills said Joseph somehow managed to get halfway out of his car. Mills said he then jumped over the highway divider to pull him out of the car, worrying that the car would explode.
When officers arrived, Ricciardi said motorists, including Mills, were attempting to aid the young man. Hillside Fire Department responded to extinguish the flames.
“Thanks to the kindness and quick actions of these citizens to help someone they didn’t know, they’ve given this man a chance to survive a very serious crash,” Ricciardi said.
Until that day, DiMeo said she didn’t know much about Mills, whose falsetto voice can be heard on Blue Magic’s soulful ballads such as “Side Show” and “What’s Come Over Me.”
DiMeo searched his name on the internet, not thinking she’d get to meet the man she saw saving her son in a video that someone sent to her.
Two days after the accident, though, she and her husband John, were walking into the Hillside police department on July 16.
Mills was on his way out of the building when she spotted him, but she wasn’t really sure if the man she walked past was Mills.
“I said, I think that’s Blue Magic,” DiMeo recalls. “I threw my stuff on the chair and ran out outside.”
Mills was curious, too, about the woman approaching him as her husband and a few officers followed behind.
She introduced herself, asking Mills if he was the man she saw in the video pulling Joseph from the car.
″‘I believe you saved my son,’” DiMeo recalled saying. “Then I just hugged him and cried.”
Mills and the DiMeos then took a picture together outside of the police department. Since that day, the family has stayed in touch with Mills, giving him text message updates on how their son is progressing. She said he has a long recovery but he’s a strong young man and a fighter.
He always went to the gym, bringing his mother along to help her get in shape. Under his guidance, DiMeo said she lost 72 pounds.
“He was my motivation,” she said.
He encouraged her to cut out junk food, soda and to eat more vegetables and drink more water.
“He even took the skin off the chicken.”
Joseph has always been conscientious. When he graduated high school, DiMeo said her son moved out with money he saved from a pizza delivery job a year earlier.
“He was very independent,” she said.
He had his own apartment and car. When the accident happened, DiMeo said her son was saving up to buy a house.
There’s no timetable on his recovery. DiMeo and her husband are at the hospital daily and forever grateful to Mills.
“I can’t thank him (Mills) enough,” she said. “How can you thank somebody that saves your son’s life?”
Information from: NJ.com, http://www.nj.com