‘Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’ star helps teen in hit-and-run accident

Family of the teen described the incident as a ‘Christmas miracle.’
"Love & Hip Hop Atlanta" star Mendeecees Harris saved a 17-year-old from a car crash. The teen's family describes the incident as a "Christmas miracle" (Car photo courtesy of Debbie Diamond; Mendeecees photo courtesy of Jakeem Smith)

Credit: Jakeem Smith

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"Love & Hip Hop Atlanta" star Mendeecees Harris saved a 17-year-old from a car crash. The teen's family describes the incident as a "Christmas miracle" (Car photo courtesy of Debbie Diamond; Mendeecees photo courtesy of Jakeem Smith)

Credit: Jakeem Smith

Credit: Jakeem Smith

What was supposed to be a drive to a friend’s house during the evening of Christmas Eve turned into a moment that Ian Maman and his family will never forget.

“It changed me a little bit,” the 17-year-old said. “I view a lot of things differently now. Life is just so precious. You never know when it’s going to end or when it can end.”

While traveling northbound on I-75 near Delk Road alone, Maman was the victim of a hit-and-run accident that damaged the front and back of his Hyundai Elantra. Though there were no fatalities reported, Maman is still suffering from neck pains and has cuts in his hands from the air bags released during the accident. But he’s grateful for “Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta” star Mendeecees Harris, who pulled over to the side of the road during the accident to ensure Maman was safe and called his parents.

Credit: Debbie Diamond

Credit: Debbie Diamond

“It started to spiral out of control, and it hit the wall and bounced off the wall and went right back in the middle of traffic,” Harris said about the accident. “At the time, I immediately started slowing down to avoid a collision. As he’s spinning — he got hit from the back of the car to the front — they were just hitting him all over, so when he pulled over to the shoulder, I had time to pull over. I got a little past him, but I pulled over, but my first instinct is that someone could be stuck in the car, the car could blow up and just try to help them get out of the car as soon as possible.”

Harris said he was finishing some last-minute Christmas shopping when the accident occurred. He remembers being about four cars behind Maman’s. According to an accident report filed by the Marietta Police Department, a white pickup truck struck Maman’s vehicle from behind, causing Maman to collide with other cars and hit the median before the car spiraled on the road. The accident occurred around 7 p.m. on Dec. 24.

The car was eventually hit in the front by another car due to the initial collision. The driver of the white pickup truck fled the scene, according to police. Chuck McPhilamy, a public information officer from the Marietta Police Department, said on Friday that the incident is currently under investigation.

“I saw it drifting a bit and saw that he was about to hit me, so I started honking at him and then one second later I remember I started spinning and got hit from the back and front,” said Maman, who lives in the Smyrna-Vinings area. “Each time I got hit, I remember thinking, ‘When is it going to end?’ I just saw some random guy approaching my car, and I kicked the door open because it wasn’t getting open. At first, I thought he hit my car, so I asked him if he was ok, then I realized he didn’t hit me. Then that’s when he asked if I was ok. He called my parents and 911 on his phone because I lost my phone during the accident. I had no clue who he was. He was really nice.”

Credit: Debbie Diamond

Credit: Debbie Diamond

Harris said Maman was really shaken up after the accident and didn’t know how to respond, but Harris wanted to get him out of the car as soon as he could because he feared the car could blow up. Harris said he couldn’t stop thinking about his own son, who’s also 17 and recently learned how to drive, during that time.

“When I saw it was a teenager, a young man, the first thing that came to mind was that could’ve been my son,” said Harris, 44. “I would hope that if he got in an accident, someone would pull over and possibly save his life but whether it is a teenager or adult, if you can save a life, why not (help)? I just felt like that was the right thing to do. I was happy that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, so most of the damage went to the car and not the person. It was Christmas Eve, and I didn’t think that anybody should be getting the bad news that their kid or significant other was in an accident and in the hospital.”

After the police arrived, Harris said he was told to leave the scene. Maman was eventually treated by an ambulance and later reunited with his parents.

“I’m just very thankful how everything turned out,” Maman, a junior at Saint Francis High School in Milton, said. “If he didn’t come, then no one would’ve came. It could’ve been much worse than it really was. He played a very vital part in making sure I was ok, making sure the cops came and the ambulance was on its way. When I first got hit, I was in complete shock. I didn’t even know what happened for a second.”

Debbie Diamond, Maman’s mom, said her heart sank when she first heard that her child was in a car accident. She didn’t know what could happen, especially considering he was driving alone.

“We’re just very thankful,” Diamond said. “I feel like there were angels around this child. I really feel like Mendeecees was one of those angels. He stopped and he helped him. I mean, it was Christmas Eve. I’m sure he was busy trying to get to his family, but he did the right thing. As a parent, I will be forever grateful to him.”

Diamond said she later researched Harris online and discovered that he starred in the popular VH1 reality show. Harris, a native of Harlem, is most known for starring in “Love & Hip Hop New York,” with his wife Yandy Smith-Harris. The “Love and Hip Hop” franchise follows the personal and professional lives of several artists in the rap industry. Mendeecees Harris is the former owner of the Beat Factory Studio, which was located in the Bronx. Harris and his wife have lived in Atlanta for the past three years and have starred in the Atlanta series of the franchise since season 10.

The couple owns Dancin’ Crepe, a tapas restaurant located in the Underground.

Diamond said she’s happy that someone of Harris’ caliber took time out of his busy schedule to save her son in one of the scariest moments of his life.

“In Judaism, we use the word ‘mensch,’ and it’s like a righteous, good, kind, thoughtful human being,” Diamond said. “And that’s Mendeecees. It’s ironic that we’re calling it a Christmas miracle because we’re Jewish, but it really was a Christmas miracle.”

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