A Rockford woman suffered major injuries and was pulled from her burning vehicle after her car hit a tree, head on, at County Road 11 and Independence Street on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
West Hennepin Public Safety responded at approximately 8:12 p.m. to a report of a personal injury crash and smoke coming from the vehicle. While en route, officers were notified that the vehicle was now on fire but all known occupants were out of the vehicle.
Arriving officers found one vehicle engulfed in flames, and Loretto Fire Rescue was on the scene extinguishing the fire.
The driver of the 2000 Dodge Caravan, Brittany Meihofer, 24, had been pulled from her burning vehicle and was treated by Loretto Fire Department. She had major injuries to her face, a possible broken ankle or leg and neck injuries.
Police learned that a passerby, James Buck, 50, of Independence, was driving westbound on County Road 11 when he noticed vehicle brake lights in the eastbound ditch. He immediately pulled his vehicle to the side of the road to assist. As he approached Meihofer’s car, Buck observed smoke coming from the vehicle, opened the door and pulled Meihofer out of the vehicle. He feared that it was going to start on fire. Seconds after he pulled Meihofer out of the car, it went up in flames.
North Memorial Air Care transported Meihofer to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
Vehicle traffic on County Road 11 was shut down at County Road 90 and County Road 19 for approximately one hour after the crash.
During a preliminary investigation, authorities did not find any skid marks leading up to the vehicle leaving the roadway, going down into the ditch and striking a tree. The van had severe front end damage and the entire interior was burnt.
West Hennepin Director Ray McCoy said, “Thanks to James Buck’s observation and immediate actions to pull Meihofer from her vehicle, she is alive today. This crash had all the potentials to be a fatality instead of a personal injury.”
West Hennepin was assisted by the Medina Police Department, Loretto Fire Rescue, Maple Plain Fire Rescue and North Memorial Air Care and Ambulance.