Two men who sprang into action aren’t ready to call themselves heroes, but those who know their story think otherwise.
One Tuesday afternoon in the San Francisco Bay Area, a driver lost control of his 1996 Toyota Corolla while navigating a curve in the roadway. The car skidded off of the road and rolled into a nearby rain-swollen creek. The car’s roof had bent in the crash, preventing the 20-year-old from opening his door. He was trapped inside of his car with water gushing into the passenger compartment.
Luckily, two residents of the area were already aware that something had gone wrong. Dan Rich, one of the two people involved in the rescue, said, “We heard a bunch of skidding and thought, ‘Oh my God!’ I thought the poor whoever’s in that car is in trouble. He’s in trouble.”
With the help of Clayton Wiedeman, Rich sprung into action, rushing over to the overturned car.
“As soon as I got [there] the car was upside down in the creek and it looked pretty serious,” said Wiedemann. Aware of the danger surrounding the situation and wanting to waste no time, “Clayton [dove] in there, under the creek, inside the car full of water,” said Rich, “That’s what this character did.”
Wiedemann remembers “wrenching on the door to get it open” and hearing “someone banging at the door” from inside the car. Even with the driver and Wiedemann working together, the car door would not open. Rich ran to his truck and grabbed his pickaxe out of the bed. He shattered the rear window of the Corolla, saying “I could see a hand trying to hit the window, but he was under water. So I took the pickaxe and put it through the window.”
In an interview with NBC Bay Area, Rich mentioned that they “could hear the window implode” and that they “started grabbing everything they could” from the car.
“I guess one of the things I grabbed was him. It all happened so fast he ended up on the bank before we knew it,” he said.
Rich had no hesitation in smashing the Corolla’s window. “We took a chance because we might have hurt him. But we had to get him out.” Thanks to their quick action and courage, they did get him out. Moreover, from what these two heroes saw, “[the driver] was just happy to get out of that car.”
After Rich and Wiedemann rescued the young man, the proper authorities were alerted about the accident. California Highway Patrol Officer Derek Reed said, “[The driver] was lucky. Obviously, there were two people willing to risk their lives to save his.”
Yet, these two good samaritans did not take the time to consider the risk to their own lives; they only considered how they could save someone desperately in need.
When Emmy Award-winning reporter Juliette Goodrich called these two men heroes, they begged to differ. Rich faced Widemann, smiling and asking “Are you a hero?” Rich figured, “anyone would have did it.”
Regardless of whether they’re called heroes, their courage, selflessness, and teamwork saved a life that day. The driver sustained only minor injuries attributed to the crash and is expecting a full recovery.
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