By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota woman still recovering from the accident that almost killed her, got to say thanks to the man who saved her Thursday night at the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office 2013 Citizen Awards.

Nancy Breberg has trouble breathing due to when her car slid off the road and ended up in frigid water back in January. She spent a whole night trapped inside it before a young man on his bike stopped to help.

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“She’s just this really, really perfect person,” Geoffrey Racette said of Breberg.

And Nancy and her husband, Ron, seem to think the same of him.

“He’s just so much more grown up than a lot of kids I know that age,” Breberg said of Racette, who’s 21.

Ron and Nancy have been married for 47 and half years — that last half made possible by a young man on his bike.

Nancy’s car caught Racette’s eye back in January.

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“You see a car in a ditch some people would think, ‘Oh, it’s been there for a while, they’re just waiting to tow it out,'” Racette said. “I decided to look a little closer and this is what happened.”

He stood in the water offering food from his backpack to fuel her and words to calm her.

As the sheriff honored a handful of civilian heroes Thursday night, Nancy stood by making official what some already knew.

“He’s our hero, you bet,” she said.

To try and pay Racette back, Ron has set up an education fund in his name that anyone can donate to at a Wells Fargo.

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Among the award recipients who were scheduled to attend:

  • A group of citizens who helped rescue a child during a near-drowning incident at Wirth Lake.
  • A 10-year-old boy from Plymouth who jumped into a swimming pool to help save his young brother who was reportedly unconscious under the water.
  • A man who has volunteered in the Hennepin County Jail to help inmates.
  • A man who assisted with the rescue of a child after the boy had fallen through the ice on Lake Minnetonka.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield