A witness to a Marine's act of heroism just two months before his tragic death recounted the incident to NBC 7 and explained why she thinks the man should always be remembered.
Two months ago, United States Marine Corps Sgt. Gary Wilson, 33, of Fairfield, CT, saved two people from a burning car on State Route 163.
Kristina Hill and another man saw the crash, too, and also pulled over to help. As they looked for a rock or hard object to break the window with, Sgt. Wilson walked up and broke it with his elbow.
"When I looked up, Gary Wilson was walking towards the car very stoically, quickly, no kind of emotion on his face. He walked right up to the car and busted out the window with his elbow. He reached in and pulled the woman out and cradled her to safety. It was sort of like right out of a movie."
The other woman in the car was alert, but couldn't move her arms to unlock the door, Hill said. She walked to the other side to help her, but Wilson was already there.
"Gary Wilson, again, was there. He had pried open the door, pulled her out and carried her out to another car."
"Just like that. No hesitation. Just very heroic. I've never seen anything like it."
Hill said the disabled car was engulfed in flames within two minutes and was ready to explode.
"I believe wholeheartedly he saved their lives," she said.
Wilson's courage and selflessness had a profound impact on Hill and the two stayed in touch after the crash.
Wilson told Hill about another crash he witnessed just a week later in the same area. He pulled over and gave CPR to a man who ultimately died at the scene from his injuries.
Further inspired by his heroism, Hill wrote a letter of recommendation for Wilson to receive a recognition medal for his efforts. She said Wilson was never looking for any recognition, but she wanted him to get it.
"He was a Marine and he said that's what Marines do," Hill said.
Wilson was a drill instructor at MCRD after tours of duty in Okinawa and Camp Pendleton.
He earned two Good Conduct Medals, three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
He was killed in a motorcycle crash Friday evening on northbound I-15, according to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD). After learning of his tragic death, Hill said she could only scream in disbelief.
"I just hope he knows that his life was so important and that he touched so many people and I'm going to share his story all my life," she said.
To Hill, Wilson's story needs to be told because she says we're living in a time with so much negativity and division.
"I want him to know and his family to know he did change the world and he made an impact and that he's not going to be forgotten... Whoever brought him up and raised him did an amazing job."
MCRD San Diego released the following statement after Wilson's death:
"We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Wilson. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult period. This is truly the loss of a fine Marine, and he will be missed greatly."