Man sacrifices car in heroic act in France - strangers buy him new one

Hundreds of people stepped in after the man’s insurance company refused to pay out

A man holding a new vehicle key against a backdrop of vehicles at a garage
The man was able to buy himself a new vehicle after generous donations from locals
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A man who sacrificed his car to stop a hit-and-run driver in central France has been able to buy a new vehicle after hundreds of strangers came together to fund a replacement.

Yaya Sow, a painter and plasterer, prevented a hit-and-run driver from fleeing the scene of a fatal accident on August 23, 2023, by using his car as a shield.

That vehicle was a write-off, but his insurance company refused to cover him for the incident, judging that his choice to intercept the hit-and-run driver was deliberate.

As a result, he had been without a vehicle since the accident.

‘The hero of Limoges’

Now, Mr Sow, who is based in Limoges (Haute-Vienne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine), has been able to buy himself a small van to replace the vehicle he sacrificed after a total of 723 people donated to an online crowdfund set up in his honour.

Cathy Meunier, also from Limoges, set up the crowdfund for the ‘hero of Limoges’ after hearing Mr Sow’s story, and the negative response from his insurance company.

She works with elderly people, and was particularly moved by the incident, after hearing that the would-be hit-and-run driver had hit and killed a person in their 70s.

“I couldn’t hear this news and not do anything,” she said. “The fund-raising campaign enabled us to collect a nice sum, €13,000. We had 723 donors, which is great, with lots of very warm comments for Yaya.”

The would-be hit-and-run driver was captured partly thanks to Mr Sow’s actions, and later sentenced to three years in prison for the killing.

‘I’m really pleased’

Of his search for a new vehicle with the funds, Mr Sow said: “I had to find a van, because I had had quite a few job requests. Friends were helping me out, but it wasn't practical.

“So when I saw this van on an internet advert, and it was in perfect condition [and had good] mileage, I really wanted to take it. Plus, the garage that was selling it in La Rochelle did me a good deal. I’m really pleased.”

Mr Sow is now set to renovate the van to make it even more suitable for his work, including a place to store his tools on one side, and another on the other side to transport plasterboard.

Mr Sow said the older man’s death was “a real tragedy” and that he had “put himself in the victim’s family’s place” and knew they were grieving. He has struck up a friendship with the deceased’s daughter since the accident.

“We’re on good terms,” he said. “She has given me free cinema tickets and tickets to the zoo for my children.”

Mr Sow has also changed his vehicle insurance company.

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