Cars are kind of terrifying when your really think about it. I mean, we strap ourselves into a ton or two of metal, set flammable fuel reserves alight, and scream down strips of pavement at incredible speeds.
“The automobile is the most dangerous weapon in our society. Cars kill more than wars do.”
That might sound a little hyperbolic. But a crash in Colorado on Jan. 12 is a reminder of how terrible a car crash can be.
According to the Greeley Tribune, 35-year-old Christine Olson was driving down U.S. Route 34 when her car began to have trouble. So she pulled to a stop and turned on her hazard lights.
However, another driver behind her named Jordan Persichitte was driving along at 65 mph. Persichitte said she glanced down to look for a cup of coffee she’d been drinking.
The next thing she knew, her airbags exploded into her face. She rammed right into Olson’s car.
The force of the crash propelled Olson’s vehicle into an intersection. And that wasn’t all it did.
A later report from the Greeley Tribune stated that the impact caused Olson’s car to burst into flames. Fortunately for her, Brett Riemenschneider had seen the whole thing happen.
“I couldn’t just sit there and watch that car be on fire with someone inside it,” he said. “I didn’t even think of it as an option.
“This person’s going to sit in their car and burn alive, or, I’m going to get them out and they’re going to have a chance.” So Riemenschneider did the only thing he could.
He got out of his own vehicle and ran to Olson’s car where she lay unconscious. He found himself joined by two other men. He began banging on the window with a knife in his hand.
“The next thing you know, my hand went through the window, and we were trying to unlock the car door from the inside,” he said. Riemenschneider, who works in the oil and gas industry, also happened to be wearing fire-retardant clothing, which protected him from the growing blaze.
Thanks to his intervention, Olson arrived at the hospital in critical condition.
Olson was moved to intensive care at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, still in critical condition on Sunday with her family by her side.
For Riemenschneider’s part, he found himself shaken by the experience.
“I tried to put on the tough dad face for my kids,” he said. “As soon as I got to the bathroom and my mom started picking pieces of glass out of my hand, I just kind of broke down.
“Like, full-on sobbed like a baby for an hour.” However, he added that the experience helped him beyond simply saving Olson’s life.
A family member told him, “‘You know what kind of man you are now. You know now that you’re the type of guy that’s going to run in and help.’”
Even so, Riemenschneider doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“People keep using the term ‘hero,’ and it’s weird,” he said. “I don’t necessarily agree. I don’t think I’m a hero. I don’t think any of us are heroes. I just think that, you know, we’re people, and that’s another person. So, that’s the right thing to do, regardless of what comes of it at the end.”
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