Ralph Gilles came upon the deadly accident in his Jeep Wrangler before first responders arrived to douse a flaming Ford Edge and extricate victims trapped in a Fiesta.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles design head Ralph Gilles has been praised for 'heroic' actions after happening upon a car accident last week and using his Jeep Wrangler to push a flaming car away from trapped victims in another vehicle.
Gilles was with his wife, Doris, on his way home from an event when he came upon the scene of a head-on collision involving a Ford Edge that had crossed the center line and struck a Fiesta, according to the Oxford Leader. The driver of the Edge was able to escape before his vehicle caught fire, however a couple in the Fiesta was trapped.
As Gilles went back to his vehicle to move it off the road, a Buick LeSabre lost control and struck the Fiesta, pushing it back against the flaming Edge. The FCA executive then put his Wrangler into four-wheel-drive and pushed the Edge back away from the Fiesta to prevent the fire from spreading to the small car before its occupants could be extricated.
A long and sad night a week ago I will never forget. By now many of you have read the story. We were first on the scene. I am NOT a hero, I think most people would have tried to help somehow. Understanding cars and their limitations may have played a factor sure. What ultimately turned out to be a 2 hour ordeal for us as we filled out Police reports, gave us a unique view of the whole process. It made us appreciate the true heroes. The first responders, Firemen/women, EMS and Police who deal with this stuff everyday day. It also made Doris and I realize how life can change in moments. Had I been standing in between the two crashed cars as I was just moments prior to the third car arriving. I likely would be part of history. Lets all drive heads up all the time. My deepest condolences to the family of the woman who sadly passed away at the hospital.
"The only thing I can remember thinking (is) I've got a Jeep, it's got a bumper on it, I think I can do this," Gilles told the newspaper. "All I could think about were the two people still inside the other car."
The couple in the Fiesta was extracted within 22 minutes of firefighters arriving on the scene but, tragically, the passenger died of her injuries at the hospital.
Police suspect alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. The Edge driver was held in the county jail for several days.