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Tell Me What Happened

Author: OnStar

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Things don’t always go as planned: Sometimes a drive in the mountains, or a swim in the ocean, suddenly turns into a dangerous situation. Other times it might be a medical emergency, or a family lost in a foreign country. These are the true stories of people helping people during the most pivotal moments in their lives.

Each episode also includes a conversation with an expert to provide added advice around crisis situations. Featured guests from the first two seasons include a psychologist, a search-and-rescue expert offering practical tips for surviving a blizzard when you are caught in a remote area, an emergency management expert and many more. Tell Me What Happened is brought to you by OnStar.
31 Episodes
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A 9/11 Miracle

A 9/11 Miracle

2024-05-2026:27

On September 11, 2001, Stanley Praimnath went to work on the 81st floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center, same as he always did. When a plane struck the north tower, Stanley and many others began their evacuation. But when he reached the lobby, he was told his building was safe and to return to work. He was back in his office minutes later when a plane hit the south tower and tore through his floor.Brian Clark’s office was three floors up from Stanley on the 84th floor. When the tower was hit, Brian and a few of his co-workers headed to the stairwell to escape. When they reached the 81st floor, Brian heard a voice crying out for help. We also speak with NYFD firefighter Regina Wilson about how to prepare for an evacuation in the office or at home.Visit onstar.com/features/crisis-help to learn more about how OnStar can help Members when crisis hits.
Rip Current Rescue

Rip Current Rescue

2024-05-0621:03

In April 2023, Liv Titor visited Dreamtime beach on Australia's Gold Coast. What happened to her that day felt like a nightmare. After a quick swim, Liv walked out onto a sandbar beside some rocks. Then she felt a pull at her legs and fell into the water. Liv stepped into a rip current that quickly pulled her out to sea towards massive waves and jagged rocks. John Gordon, a local surfer, was making the most of the big swells at the beach when he saw Liv get swept away. He knew if he didn’t act quick, she would drown so he ran into the ocean, hopped on his surfboard and paddled towards the deadly current with the hopes of rescuing a stranger.We also speak with Kelsey Cummings, a lifeguard with the California Surf Life Saving Association to talk about ocean safety.Visit onstar.com/features/crisis-help to learn more about how OnStar can help Members in a moment of crisis.
Lani Williams and her mother, Sincerity, could smell smoke, but that wasn’t rare on Maui. Brush fires happen with some regularity. This fire, they quickly learned, was different. Five hundred miles to the south, Hurricane Dora had kicked up unusually troublesome winds. In Lahaina, Hawaii, where Lani and Sincerity lived, those winds downed power lines and whipped sparks into a full-blown wildfire that was closing in on them. They tried to escape the blaze by car, but the main roads were either closed or blocked by a crush of panicked drivers trying to leave town. They were stuck between the fire on one side and the ocean on the other.Benny Reinicke smelled smoke that morning too and found himself in the same logjam of frightened drivers desperately trying to flee Lahaina. Amidst smoke and flames and exploding cars, he spotted Lani struggling to help her mom climb the seawall and get to safety. He took it upon himself to make sure they made it.We also speak with wildfire expert Michele Steinberg from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) about how you can identify hazards and strategies to help protect against wildfires.If you’d like to help the residents of Lahaina and others impacted by natural disasters, you can donate to the American Red Cross at redcross.org/donate/cm/onstar-pub.html/Visit onstar.com/why-onstar to learn more about the benefits of being an OnStar Member and why Better Never Stops when you're connected by OnStar.
Under an Avalanche

Under an Avalanche

2024-04-0826:02

Bob Tillotson knew the avalanche danger was high when he set out with friends into the Utah backcountry on his snowmobile. But he also knew which areas to avoid. Or so he thought. On January 13, 2024, an avalanche hit Bob without warning, carrying him down the mountain in a wave of snow. When he stopped, he was completely buried and separated from his group.Dustin Sweeten was snowmobiling with a separate crew that day. Just before he was ready to head home, he saw what looked like an avalanche in the distance and went to go check it out. When he got there, he saw two people from Bob’s group. They told him their friend was buried. Then they saw a glove poking out of the snow. We also speak with Sandra Riches, the executive director of British Columbia AdventureSmart, about outdoor winter safety and what to do if you or someone you’re with is in an avalanche.Visit onstar.com/features/crisis-help to learn more about how OnStar can help Members in a moment of crisis.Video credit: Ammon Sweeten / YouTube @MountainWolf-ut.
When Gabriel Otrin and Klever Freire stepped into their office elevator, they naturally assumed they’d be able to get out. It was August 2018, and a massive downpour was causing floods all over Toronto. Gabriel and Klever were working late and went to check on Klever’s car in the basement garage. Before they reached the bottom, however, the elevator stopped with a jerk and began to quickly fill with water. They couldn’t open the doors. They were trapped.Police officers Ryan Barnett and Josh McSweeney had just finished a call when another came over the radio. Two men were trapped in an elevator. When they arrived, the garage was completely flooded and Ryan had to swim to the elevator doors. He could hear Klever and Gabriel inside calling for help. He needed to act fast.We also speak with Julie Munger, an internationally acclaimed swift-water rescue instructor, about how to safely navigate fast-moving water and urban floods.Visit onstar.com/features/crisis-help to learn more about how OnStar can help Members in a moment of crisis.
Nicole Rakowski arrived in Iceland looking for adventure. She left in a wheelchair. In February 2017, Nicole and two friends hiked to a natural hot spring just south of Reykjavík. When they arrived, Nicole took off her boots, changed into her bathing suit and stepped onto the riverbank beside the steaming water. She immediately began to sink into the mud and felt excruciating pain. She screamed for help. Lee Ricasa was taking a relaxing dip in a nearby mud pool when he heard a scream followed by the sight of panicked hikers carrying Nicole and desperately searching for help. A retired firefighter, Lee knew Nicole was in bad shape. She had third-degree burns on her legs and feet. She couldn’t walk. She was drifting in and out of consciousness and could go into shock at any moment. He knew he had to take control of the situation if Nicole was going to survive.We also talk to Tod Schimelpfenig, an instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School since 1973, about how to treat burns in the wilderness.Visit onstar.com/why-onstar to learn more about the benefits of being an OnStar Member and why Better Never Stops when you're connected by OnStar.
Tell Me What Happened — the award-winning podcast about people helping people — is returning this March!We’re hard at work on Season 4 and have more incredible, heart-pounding stories to share with you about complete strangers stepping in to help someone in need.  This series is produced by OnStar. They are committed to keeping you safe and so are we. Each episode features an expert with helpful tips for all sorts of situations. As always, every story has a happy ending and celebrates the power of a true human connection. Join us for this exciting and heartwarming journey.
In 1941, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the Bogancha family saved two young Jewish girls from Nazi soldiers, giving them fake identities and hiding them in an orphanage. That act of kindness would ripple across time and, amazingly, lead to the help their descendants needed after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.Connecting those dates begins with a book. In 2009, Greg Dawson published Hiding in the Spotlight, a book about his mother, Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson. She was a 14 year-old piano prodigy in 1941 when German soldiers rounded up her family along with the rest of the Jews in her Ukrainian town. Miraculously, Zhanna and her sister, Frina, escaped and found temporary shelter with the Boganchas. With new identities, they survived by playing concerts for German soldiers. After the war, they emigrated to the United States and started over.In 2013, Marina Orlovetsky, also from Kharkiv, Ukraine, read Greg’s book. She was so moved by the story that she tracked down and befriended Zhanna, Greg and the descendants of the Boganchas. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2023, the Boganchas fled their home in Kharkiv. Marina, who had never met the Boganchas in person, offered to help their 18-year-old son, Alex, get to the United States and go to college. Marina turns to Zhanna’s son, Greg, offering the Dawsons the opportunity to return a kindness to the Boganchas. We also speak with Una Bilic, a deputy director with the International Rescue Committee, to discuss the process refugees go through to move to the U.S. and how we can support them.We are conducting a survey to learn more about our listeners and we want to hear from you.What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? Let us know at www.tmwh.clubYou can also vote for your favorite episode of Season 3 and we’ll rebroadcast the winner with extended audio that will make it even more compelling!
When her crowded New York City subway train screeched to an emergency stop, K.Page Stuart Valdes melted in fear. She’d recently had a stroke nobody could explain. Terrified it would happen again, right there surrounded by strangers, K.Page felt anxiety wash over her. Until one warm voice cut through the fog. That stranger, just another face on a train moments before, helped K.Page find her way out of the panic attack and get on with her day. Then the stranger was gone. But her kindness was critical and helped K.Page realize that she needed mental health support. Today, K.Page would love nothing more than to find the woman who stepped up and steadied her world. Please share this episode and let’s see if we can find her. We also speak with Natalia Dayan, a licensed social worker and the global strategy director at Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit organization that provides free, high-quality, text-based 24/7 mental health support and crisis intervention in English and Spanish.  If you need mental health resources or support please reach out:Visit the Crisis Text Line website or text 741741.Call 988 or visit the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline website.Or visit the OnStar Veterans support website. We are conducting a survey to learn more about our listeners and we want to hear from you.What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? Let us know at www.tmwh.clubYou can also vote for your favorite episode of Season 3 and we’ll rebroadcast the winner with extended audio that will make it even more compelling! --- Cuando su tren abarrotado del subterráneo de la Ciudad de New York chillaba hasta parar por emergencia, K. Page Stuart Valdes se descomponía por el miedo. Ella recientemente había tenido un infarto que nadie podía explicar. Aterrada de que volvería a pasar, ahí mismo rodeada por extraños, K. Page sentía como la ansiedad la abrumada. Hasta que una cálida voz cortó por la neblina.Ese extraña, un acara cualquiera en el tren momentos antes, ayudó a K. Page a encontrar su forma de salir del ataque de pánico y a seguir con su día. Luego la extraña había desaparecido. Pero su amabilidad fue crítica y ayudó a K. Page a darse cuenta que ella necesitaba ayuda en su salud mental. Hoy, a K. Page no le encantaría nada más que encontrar a la mujer que dio un paso adelante y puso su mundo en firme. Por favor comparta este episodio para ver si la podemos encontrar a ella. También hablamos con Natalia Dayan, una trabajadora social licenciada y la Directora de Estrategia Global en la Crisis Text Line (Línea de Texto de Crisis) para discutir la salud mental y cómo apoyarnos mutuamente.Si usted necesita recursos para la salud mental o apoyo por favor comuníquese:Visite la página web de la Crisis Text Line o envíe un texto al 741741. Llame al 988  o visite la página web del 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline(Línea de Suicido y Crisis).O visite la página web de OnStar Veterans support (Apoyo a Veteranos de OnStar).
On the morning of Christmas Eve 2022, Joe White set out on the long walk to his job in the North Park neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. Joe has autism and he didn’t realize he was walking into the deadliest winter storm to hit the region in a century. Severely frostbitten and disoriented, Joe stumbled into snowdrifts and called out for help. A stranger heard his plea.Sha’Kyra Aughtry bundled Joe into her home. She was able to call Joe’s sister, Yvonne, who didn’t know he was out in the storm, and they quickly realized that he needed serious medical attention. But the storm had shut the city down, and emergency services couldn’t get out to anyone. After watching Joe deteriorate over 24 hours, Sha’Kyra turned to social media and put out a call for help to save Joe and get him to a hospital.  We also talk to winter survival expert Dr. Teimojin Tan for advice on how to stay warm during a storm. We are conducting a survey to learn more about our listeners and we want to hear from you.What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? Let us know at www.tmwh.clubYou can also vote for your favorite episode of Season 3 and we’ll rebroadcast the winner with extended audio that will make it even more compelling!
Taylor Hash, a student pilot, had just taken off on her third solo flight when she got the shock of her life. Over the radio, she heard another pilot telling air traffic control that her front wheel fell off during takeoff. Taylor knew she’d have to land the plane with no front wheel, but she had no idea how or what to do next. In a case of right place, right time, a veteran pilot named Chris Yates happened to be at the airport that day, getting ready to co-pilot a private flight. It was his voice Taylor heard tell air traffic control that her front wheel had fallen off. When he realized Taylor was still learning to fly, he stepped in to guide her down. We also speak to psychotherapist Amy Morin for tips on coping with anxiety around flying and how to support others who are struggling with air travel.We are conducting a survey to learn more about our listeners and we want to hear from you.What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? Let us know at www.tmwh.clubYou can also vote for your favorite episode of Season 3 and we’ll rebroadcast the winner with extended audio that will make it even more compelling!
Kristy Millar spent days preparing for Hurricane Ian, but when the storm hit, her family ended up trapped in their rapidly flooding home. They escaped, but the storm had turned their street into a river. To get to higher ground, Kristy and her 3-year-old son were going to have to swim. Enter Kevin Ott.Ott was also out in the storm, determined to rescue his kids’ grandmother — who happened to be Kristy’s neighbor. Driving a borrowed pontoon boat through canal-like streets in a Category 4 hurricane, Kevin and his kids ended up rescuing Kristy, her son and 10 other neighbors, including Grandma, that day. We also talk to Grace Meinhofer, a spokesperson with the American Red Cross who has personal experience with hurricanes, for advice on how to prepare for storm season. The American Red Cross name and emblem are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, opinion or political position. The American Red Cross logo is a registered trademark owned by The American National Red Cross. For more information about the American Red Cross, please visit redcross.org.We are conducting a survey to learn more about our listeners and we want to hear from you.What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? Let us know at www.tmwh.clubYou can also vote for your favorite episode of Season 3 and we’ll rebroadcast the winner with extended audio that will make it even more compelling!
Phil Mummert was in the middle of a perfect day of surfing at Bunker Bay, one of his regular spots in western Australia, until he was suddenly knocked off his board. When he surfaced, his board was broken, his leg was bleeding, and there was a great white shark charging at him. Using only his bare hands, feet and what was left of his surfboard, Phil fought for his life. But he knew he wouldn’t last long against a 16-foot shark. That’s when three more surfers arrived to help. Thanks to them, Phil survived, kept his leg, and is still surfing. We also speak with shark scientist Melissa Cristina Márquez to understand the risks around sharks and what you should be aware of when sharing the water with them.We are conducting a survey to learn more about our listeners and we want to hear from you.What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? Let us know at www.tmwh.clubYou can also vote for your favorite episode of Season 3 and we’ll rebroadcast the winner with extended audio that will make it even more compelling!
René Compeán had hiked in Angeles National Forest many times. So he didn’t think twice when he set out on one of his favorite trails for a quick hike. But to save time, he went off trail — and ended up lost and relying on a rapidly dying cell phone to call for help. René was unprepared to spend a cold night in the mountains with wildlife roaming around him, and his mental and physical health deteriorated quickly.Rescue teams struggled to find him in a thick fog and a massive search area, until a stranger with a unique set of technical skills stepped in with key information.We also speak to Jessie Krebs, wilderness survival instructor of OWLS Skills, about what you should and shouldn’t do if you’re lost in the wilderness, and how to prepare, no matter the length of hike.We are conducting a survey to learn more about our listeners and we want to hear from you.What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? Let us know at www.tmwh.clubYou can also vote for your favorite episode of Season 3 and we’ll rebroadcast the winner with extended audio that will make it even more compelling!
Seven new, remarkable stories showcase how kind people can be, often putting themselves in danger to save someone they’ve never met. Season 3 features a lost hiker rescued by a stranger sitting miles away, a trio of surfers who take on a great white shark, and a man who braves Hurricane Ian to help a relative and ends up saving 12 people and their pets. As always, experts weigh in with practical tips to keep you and your loved ones safe. Tell Me What Happened by OnStar returns May 22nd.Learn more about our award-winning podcast.
Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman was working at a job he loved, making enough money to provide for his family. At just 14, he was the father figure in his home in Honduras. One night after work he was abducted and smuggled into the United States. He was sold into sexual exploitation. For months he was tortured, beaten, drugged, starved and raped.But he was rescued.Sabrina Goosby took Suamhirs under her wing and taught him how to use his experiences to change the lives of others. As an adult, he has become an advocate for those suffering and was enlisted by former President Barack Obama to find real solutions.We also speak to Dr. Minh Dang, executive director of Survivor Alliance, to hear about the types of human trafficking, how to respond to an industry that affects people worldwide, and what you should and shouldn’t do if you think someone may need help.If you suspect someone is in a dangerous situation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1.888.373.7888 or visit the website. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is accessible by dialing 988. Trained professionals are available 24 hours a day. For more information on this episode or to learn how you can use OnStar to help others in need, click here.
Arapahoe Basin is a legendary ski resort in Colorado, and when it’s a powder day, skiers wake up at the crack of dawn to get up the hill for those fresh tracks. That’s exactly what Richard Dempsey did, except he only got a few runs in before everything changed. Richard is able to recount his story thanks to a slackliner named Mickey Wilson who risked his own life to save someone he met that morning.We also speak to author and retired ski patroller Patti Burnett about what dangers to look out for while skiing at resorts and in the backcountry, as well as what to do if you find yourself or someone else in an emergency situation while enjoying the mountains in wintertime.For more information on this episode or to share your own story, visit OnStar’s website.
Lindsay Bull has worked at Scales and Tails for years. She has hosted numerous demonstrations with the animals at the facility, but one wrong move can end in disaster. That’s what happened during a child’s birthday party. The main attraction, a nine foot long alligator named Darth Gator mistook her hand for food and the race was on to save Lindsay’s hand. Thanks to Donnie Wiseman who attended the birthday party with his niece, Lindsay is still able to use both hands.You’re much more likely to come across an aggressive dog than an alligator. So we also speak to dog expert Jennifer Shyrock about safety tips for kids and dogs.
Sixty-five horses live at Tamara Boole’s equestrian center. That is a lot of large animals to move to safety in a short period of time. But that’s what had to be done as the fires from the CZU Lightning Complex Fires bore down on Felton, California in August 2020.Thanks to local ranchers, including another stable owner - Michelle Le Clair,  the horses at Tamara Boole’s Covered Bridge Equestrian Center were safely evacuated in the knick of time.We also speak to vet and UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team member Dr. Lais Costa, about how to safely evacuate horses, chickens, house cats, and even llamas!For more information on this episode or to share your own story, visit OnStar’s website.
Gabe Rosescu had driven on the highway numerous times and was used to driving in all types of weather. But the day Gabe took his then new partner of six months, Sheri Niemegeers, on an epic road trip to see his friends, he could never have planned for what was about to occur. It’s not every day you see a tree crossing the road in front of you. Thanks to four motorists who risked their own lives, Sheri and Gabe are here to tell their story.We also speak to Mary Ann Adams, OnStar Member disaster response leader, about how to look for signs that the road ahead could become hazardous; what to do if you find yourself on a flooded roadway, in a mudslide or in a snowstorm; and what equipment you should keep in your vehicle.For more on this episode, or to learn what can happen if raging floodwaters wash your car off the road, click here.
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