A Fiat Chrysler exec saved the lives of two people over the weekend using quick thinking and his Jeep Wrangler.
It was a dark and snowy night last Sunday in Suburban Detroit when Fiat Chrysler’s Global Head of Design, Ralph Gilles, came upon the scene of a terrible accident. A Ford Edge crossed the center line and plowed into a Ford Fiesta head-on in a scene that would make for a great Chrysler ad if it weren’t so tragic.
The driver of the Edge was able to exit the SUV, but the occupants of the Fiesta, an elderly couple, were trapped inside.
“We were the first on the scene,” Gilles told The Oxford Leader. “It looked like it [had] just happened based on the steam and the fact that the gentleman [driving the Edge] was clearly just getting out of his car.”
While Gilles’ wife called 911, Gilles and the Edge driver tried to extract the Fiesta couple, but the doors were stuck. That’s when a 1997 Buick LeSabre, unable to see the crashed cars in the darkness or just unable to stop in the snowy conditions, plowed into the side of the Fiesta and pushed it into the Ford Edge which immediately caught fire.
Unable to extract the Fiesta occupants and with a burning car next to the now three-car pile-up, Gilles had an idea. He quickly got back into his Wrangler and used the car’s bumper and four-wheel drive to great effect, pushing the burning Edge to the opposite side of the road and saving the occupants of the Fiesta.
“I still have no idea where that [thought] came from,” Gilles said. “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. All I could think about were the two people still inside the other car.”
Rescue workers arrived shortly after and were able to extract the occupants of the Fiesta. The drivers of the Edge, Fiesta, and LeSabre all suffered minor injuries. The single passenger of the Fiesta later died in hospital of her injuries.
According to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, “Alcohol appears to be a factor” in why the Edge driver crossed the centerline.
Addison Fire Chief Jerry Morawski hailed Gilles as a hero. “That guy did a pretty heroic thing,” the chief said. “I think the guy did a great job . . . [If he hadn’t taken action] it could have been worse.”