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Nicole had a seizure while driving, but no one was hurt thanks to a stranger's action

When Nicole George-O'Brien was experiencing a seizure while driving over a bridge, a stranger jumped into action to make sure she and others on the road that day were safe.
Nicole George-O'Brien
When Nicole George-O'Brien was experiencing a seizure while driving over a bridge, a stranger jumped into action to make sure she and others on the road that day were safe.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.


When Nicole George-O'Brien was 16, she began having seizures. Her doctors tried a number of medications, but they didn't solve the problem. So when she was 21, she had brain surgery. That stopped the seizures, and her life went back to normal.

Five years later, she was driving over the San Mateo Bridge — a massive structure that cuts across the San Francisco Bay — when, all of a sudden, it hit like a thunderclap: another seizure.

"When I woke up in the hospital and realized what had happened, I was horrified and really worried that I had hurt someone," George-O'Brien recalled. "And that was one of the first things I was asking the nurses and the doctor that were there: 'Did I hurt someone? Did I kill anybody?'"

The medical staff told her that a man had seen her having a seizure and pulled over. He directed traffic around her car and made sure no one was hurt.

"I didn't hit anyone [and] they didn't hit me, which is kind of a miracle," she said.

No one knew the man's identity, and to this day, George-O'Brien doesn't know anything more about him. She thinks he simply drove off after the ambulance came to take her to the hospital.

"He clearly changed my life, and probably the lives of several people on the freeway that morning," she said.

His actions influenced George-O'Brien's thinking about what she wanted to do with her life. She went on to become a therapist, a decision that she credits to the kindness the unknown man showed her that day.

"It contributed to my desire to do a type of work that also gave care and kindness," she said. "I have two kids, I've had a great life, and I feel incredibly grateful to him for allowing that to happen."

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tara Boyle is the supervising producer of NPR's Hidden Brain. In this role, Boyle oversees the production of both the Hidden Brain radio show and podcast, providing editorial guidance and support to host Shankar Vedantam and the shows' producers. Boyle also coordinates Shankar's Hidden Brain segments on Morning Edition and other NPR shows, and oversees collaborations with partners both internal and external to NPR. Previously, Boyle spent a decade at WAMU, the NPR station in Washington, D.C. She has reported for The Boston Globe, and began her career in public radio at WBUR in Boston.
Laura Kwerel
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