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'Somebody was holding her': Elma crash victim's dad thanks man who held dying teen

It is the one gesture that has brought some solace to Fred LoFaso since his 16-year-old daughter, Rachel, was killed in a two-car crash: A stranger driving past the accident scene pulled over, got out and held the dying girl until paramedics arrived.

"The only thing that comforts me is knowing somebody was holding her," LoFaso said.

LoFaso first learned about the act of kindness from a message to one of Rachel's social media accounts. A young woman wrote that her family came upon the scene and that her father stayed with Rachel.

LoFaso got a phone call from the man Tuesday night.

LoFaso said the man, who asked The Buffalo News not to identify him, told him that on Sunday, he was driving from the Town of Tonawanda with his daughter and they were on their way to picking up his daughter's friend in the Elma area. He was taking the young women back to college.

Rachel, an Iroquois High School junior, was a passenger in her boyfriend's car, which crossed the center line on Bullis Road in the Town of Elma and collided with an SUV at about 11:15 a.m. Sunday.

The man told LoFaso that Rachel, an Elma resident, was still breathing when he approached her.

"He held her," LoFaso said, "and he was helping her breathe."

The man said Rachel did not appear to be conscious.

"He told me he doesn't believe she was in pain," LoFaso said.

Family, friends mourn teen killed in head-on crash in Elma

A second person, a young man, was also at the scene trying to help.

Paramedics soon arrived and took Rachel to Mercy Hospital. Her boyfriend, Tony Morganti, 17, was taken to Erie County Medical Center with multiple injuries.

Rachel's mother, Cynthia LoFaso, went to visit Morganti in the hospital. She and her other children are worried about him, she said. "I know what we're going through. I can't imagine what he's going through," she said. "His heart is shattered of course."

Fred LoFaso said he couldn't be more grateful that the man stopped to try to help Rachel. It was especially comforting, he said, knowing the man was a father of a daughter, too.

"He took my place," LoFaso said Wednesday morning.

After he got off the phone Tuesday night, LoFaso talked with his other children about the conversation he had just had.

"I shared with my children, after the phone call, what a difference beautiful people like that can make in someone's life and just to be thankful that he was with her."

LoFaso said he hopes to someday meet the man who was with Rachel in her final moments.

"It means everything to me," LoFaso said. "It just means everything."

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