Only on 10: Woman rescued from highway shooting speaks out
A woman was terrified when she was stuck in her car as police fired nearly 40 rounds next to her during a deadly shooting in Providence.
“I thought I was going to die,” Melissa Rios told NBC 10 News Wednesday night, nearly a week after she feared for her life.
The mother of four said she had no idea what was going on.
“And all I know is I'm screaming for help,” Rios said.
The horrifying scene unfolded Friday morning on the Interstate 95 ramp during a police chase involving a truck that was thought to be stolen by a prisoner.
“I heard police sirens, so I tried to pull over to my left and I got a fresh hit from the truck,” Rios said. "I look in my rearview mirror and now I see cops running with guns. And now the truck hits me harder. I just start screaming."
Thinking about her children, she threw herself to the passenger side and continued screaming for help. That’s when Providence Police Officer Ivan Tavares pulled her out of the window to safety.
“I do want to thank him for pulling me out,” Rios said.
While she was out of harm’s way for that moment, she said the experience is still haunting her. She’s now unable to get into a car without wearing a towel over her eyes.
“I can't look at the road and I can't open my eyes. I feel like they took a piece of my life away, putting me in that predicament,” Rios said.
Her car is totaled, as it’s covered in dents from the impact of the truck, as well as officers standing on the car.
“We're not closing the doors on a lawsuit, we're still investigating it. However, I do have a client who doesn't even have compensation for her car,” said Rios’ attorney, Michael Lombardi.
Still, Rios is faced with the price of being an innocent victim.
“I can't sleep. When I sleep, I wake up screaming. My whole life is not the same,” she said, adding that she replays that moment in her mind -- when didn't think anyone would hear her cry for help.
Meanwhile, Joseph Santos, who was driving the truck, died of a gunshot to the neck.
A medical examiner released the information Wednesday.
Providence and Rhode Island State police opened fire Santos to end the highway chase.
Video showed Santos ramming Rios’ car, as well as other vehicles. That's when police fired at him.
A passenger in Santos' truck was critically hurt.