On a narrow stretch of highway in Namibia, Tulonga Neputa was traveling by minibus with colleagues from work. Suddenly, the trip was interrupted when the driver slowed to a stop. Ahead, laid the remains of two destroyed vehicles. As Neputa made her way toward the accident scene, she saw the baby lying amongst the wreckage.
Earlier that day, Frank Heger was driving home with his eight-month-old grandson Dex. A member of Namibia’s German-speaking minority, the senior Heger was well-respected in the farming community. He had just finished meeting with associates of a prominent agricultural association before embarking on the journey.
About 18 miles from the city of Okahandja, Heger’s pickup truck collided with a sedan carrying four people. The impact tore both vehicles to shreds, killing all the adults including Heger. The horrific scene soon attracted onlookers who began documenting the carnage on their phones — seemingly oblivious to cries coming from the infant Dex. Dex had miraculously survived but was now in danger of being run over by cars that were going around the mangled debris.
Acting quickly, Neputa ran toward the child. She carried Dex in one arm and with her other hand held the bag that contained the baby’s belongings. As a mother of two children, Neputa’s maternal instincts kicked in. She cleaned the blood from Dex’s face, undressed him to look for wounds, and checked his diaper.
Despite suffering injury, Dex made a full recovery after being taken to Windhoek Hospital in the West African nation’s capital.
Neputa’s bravery was captured in several viral videos, for which she eventually received praise from both the government and the public. Neputa later said in an interview with Nambia’s New Era that she was “not a hero, but a mother” during the entire ordeal.