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Split second decision: Man saves girlfriend's life in crash

11:04 PM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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Christopher Phillips, 40, was driving back to Colorado Springs from Oklahoma with his girlfriend and son.

Along Highway 94 east of Ellicott, they were involved in a deadly crash.

Colorado State Patrol says Jeremy Petty, 31, veered in to the wrong lane and collided with Phillips' car.

According to police, Petty's vehicle should have struck the passenger side of Phillips' car where his girlfriend was seated, but instead Phillips swerved to protect her.

"He would always put everyone before himself," Deborah Mason, Phillips' girlfriend, said.

Although they had only dated for a year, Phillips and Mason were inseparable.

"He and I met at kind of a tough time in my life, and through his friendship, I felt safe and through the relationship. I felt he was the safest place in my life," she said.

It was Phillips' love for Mason and his family he cherished most.

"They're so close and so warm, and they welcomed me in to their lives," Mason said of Phillips' family.

At the end of last week, Phillips, Mason and his son Shane traveled to Oklahoma to visit Phillips' father who suffered a stroke.

On their way back to Colorado, the three drove quietly in Phillips' car not realizing what was up ahead.

"We were happy. Everyone was happy," she said.

Mason remembers the loud noise, and then this:

"I felt the blood on my face. And I looked over. And - and his eyes weren't open. I reached over and touched his face and I put my fingers on his lips and I didn't feel him breathing," she said.

Stunned by what had just happened, Mason stumbled from the vehicle.

"I was just so overwhelmed with him being gone that I that fell down in the ditch and there were people all around me," Mason said.

At that point, Phillips' son had been rushed to the hospital. Mason followed and stood by his bedside.

"He just said, 'Come here,' and I leaned down real close to his lips with my ear and he just whispered 'I love you and I'm sorry,' and I realized that was such a beautiful thing to do," she said.

Shane believed what his father believed: To put someone else's needs before your own.

"One of his favorite lines was 'If your friends are friends of love, then your friends are friends of mine.' And that was Chris," Mason said.

Colorado State Patrol says drugs and alcohol did not play a role in the accident, and Petty will likely be ticketed.

A public service will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Kelly O'Brians, located at 239 N. Academy Blvd., in Colorado Springs to honor Phillips' life.

The Chris and Shane Phillips Fund at any Wells Fargo Branch is accepting donations to help cover the cost of medical bills.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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