MASON CITY, Iowa - Around 7 p.m. Friday night, traffic was brought to a standstill on Highway 122 near the Mason City Airport due to a fiery crash involving a wrong-way driver. While drivers were directed around the scene, some pulled over and jumped into action, helping those involved while awaiting paramedics.
Devyn Brady was heading from work when he came across the scene and felt the urge that he needed to help.
"If everybody lived by the phrase of 'somebody's going to take care of it', then who's going to take care of it if everyone says that?Someone's got to do it."
"I just stopped and pulled over, ran across the median. I didn't know if it was head-on or anything."
He first saw the driver of the 2005 Dodge Caravan, 80-year-old Richard Westcott of Clear Lake, unconscious and not breathing, then noticed the driver of the 1991 Ford F-150, 51-year-old Travis Stohr of Woden, alert and breathing and unconsciously making noises, but stuck in his truck with severe injuries.
With the F-150 on fire, Brady, who has experience as a lifeguard, and other helpers knew they had to act quickly while fighting smoke from the fire.
"We grabbed the beam pillar of the door and pried it down, and opened it up, and we reached in there. He wasn't wearing a seat belt, and his leg was just broken in so many places."
However, it was a very difficult challenge.
"We got the guy so close, and we couldn't get him out again and we had to take another break. I reached in, grabbed his arm and hoodie, put my foot on the door, and I heaved with my leg...and sure enough, that pull him all the way out and onto the ground."
Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Keith Duenow was off duty but on call at the time and was also on scene that night. He credits the work of motorists like Brady, and the first responders.
"That's a very hard thing - the officers, they do that traumatic stuff more and more used to that type of stress, and you got to give the hats off to those people who stopped and helped that individual out."
Brady, who is actually working on his Criminal Justice degree to become a member of law enforcement, has an appreciation of first responders and their everyday duties, especially when time is essential.
"I know it was scary the whole time, you were like, 'when's this car going to blow up, when is something bad going to happen, when's it going to affect me?' And they do it every day. They put their life on the line every day without even thinking twice about it. It's not something everybody can definitely do. They're the real heroes."
Sgt. Duenow says that Stohr had surgery that was successful Sunday morning at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, and is listed in critical but stable condition. The crash remains under investigation.
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