Good Samaritans rescue West Bend man from fiery crash

Good Samaritans rescue West Bend man from fiery crash

By Jesse Ritka. CREATED Feb 22, 2012 - UPDATED: Feb 22, 2012

GERMANTOWN - What started out as a typical drive to work on Monday turned into a life saving effort for a group of good Samaritans.

Mark Hirtreiter tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka he wasn't even supposed to be on US 41 near Highway Q early Monday morning, "I'd missed my stop, I was going to work and I saw the person in trouble."

The 61-year-old man was trapped in his car, unconscious near Germantown.  "The driver had a medical condition; he had passed out and drove off the roadway striking the guard rail," explains Germantown Police Lieutenant Tom Schreihart.

The engine started on fire, and either by fate or fortune, Mark Hirtreiter had missed his exit on US 41, placing him near the burning car at the right moment.

Hirtreiter stresses he wasn't the first good Samaritan to stop but he lent more than a helping hand that morning, "I took my fire extinguisher that Pepsi has us have on hand, so I ran across the highway and there were people diligently working and breaking the window out.  Parts are blocked that I can't remember; I know that we worked in a quiet efficiency."

Hirtreiter and other drivers nearby worked so efficiently that they put out the fire and pulled the West Bend man to safety before 911 responders even arrived.

"We were just purposeful in our resolve to get that man out or die trying.  We were going to get him out and we did," says Hirtreiter.

Despite his actions, Hirtreiter still doesn't think the spotlight should be on him, "I'm not a hero, for all the people that were there and did what they had to do, I think those people are evidence of what makes this country and state great, it's what we do."

Lt. Schreihart agrees, "I think most of us have that human nature to want to help somebody, especially when you see somebody that's in real dire need."

But Lt. Schreihart admits, without the group of good Samaritans who came to the West Bend man's rescue, it could have been a very different situation, "It's very possible that things could have been much worse.  It was very fortunate that they stopped, proud of what they did, I think what they did was great, possibly saved this man's life."

And now Hirtreiter says he's going to buy a fire extinguisher for his personal car, "I'm definitely a believer, 'm going to get one for my wife and kid.  If I can't use it, definitely people who are responding to my aid can.  I'd like to see that in all new vehicles."

Because now, he's more than a witness to the fact that you never know when you're going to need a little help.


Jesse Ritka

Jesse Ritka

Jesse Ritka joined TODAY’S TMJ4 and Storm Team 4 in February 2011 as the “Live at Daybreak” weekend meteorologist. Growing up in Prior Lake, Minnesota, Jesse has always been fascinated by storms.