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He was lying on the road after being hit by a car. A stranger saved him

When Pierce Forde was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in the 1990s, a stranger stayed by his side. Forde says he wouldn't be alive without that man's help.
Pierce Forde
When Pierce Forde was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in the 1990s, a stranger stayed by his side. Forde says he wouldn't be alive without that man's help.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.


Growing up in Ireland, Pierce Forde loved motorcycles. His obsession only grew as he got older.

"I'm one of those people. I live to ride," Forde said.

In the early 1990s, Forde moved to New York City and bought a Honda VFR — the biggest bike he had ever owned. On the evening before his 27th birthday, he was riding his motorcycle home from a date and feeling on top of the world.

"You can imagine: I'm young. I'm in Manhattan. I have a job. I have a motorcycle. I have a girl I like. This is the American dream," he said.

Forde was heading straight through an intersection when a car suddenly turned left. Time slowed as the vehicle slammed into his bike, severely injuring him.

"I remember flying through the air. I remember seeing the motorcycle on its front wheel. Like it's doing a pirouette, and then crashing to the ground ... I just remember lying on the ground and I knew I was badly hurt," he said. "I just knew it. I was mangled. So at this point, I was going into shock."

Out of nowhere, a man appeared at his side. He took Forde's hand and said, "You'll be OK, brother."

Even through his pain, Forde noticed the man's voice; it was deep and soothing and reminded him of the singer Barry White.

"What's your name?" the man asked.

"Pierce. It's my birthday tomorrow."

"Happy birthday," the man replied. Forde started shaking. The man repeated the same questions several times: "What's your name? What day is today? Where do you live?" He insisted that Forde concentrate on him and not on his injuries.

"I would be dead without his help," Forde said.

The paramedics arrived and took Forde to the hospital. He had been there for three weeks when, one day, the man who had helped him showed up at his hospital room.

"I just started crying ... just tears rolling down my face. Oh my God. My angel is here," he recalled.

Forde and the man chatted. It was a long time ago, but Forde thinks the man's name was Alvin. They chatted about life, and Alvin told him that he was a homeless Vietnam veteran. After about an hour, they shook hands. Alvin wished Forde luck and he walked out the door.

"When that conversation ended, I was like, 'Yeah, I'm going to make it,'" Forde said.

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Katz
Autumn Barnes