By Ryan Gueningsman
INDEPENDENCE, MN An Independence man pulled a Rockford woman from a vehicle Wednesday night moments before the vehicle went up in flames.
James Buck, 50, from Independence, was driving westbound on Hennepin County Road 11 near Independence Street just after 8 p.m. when he noticed vehicle brake lights down in the eastbound ditch, according to West Hennepin Public Safety (WHPS).
Buck pulled his vehicle to the side of the road and, as he approached the vehicle, he observed smoke coming from the vehicle. He opened the door and pulled driver Brittany Meihofer, 24, of Rockford, out of the vehicle in fear that it was going to start on fire.
Seconds after pulling Meihofer out of the vehicle, it went up in flames, according to WHPS.
“Thanks to James Buck’s observation and immediate actions to pull Meihofer from her vehicle, she is alive today,” said WHPS Director Ray McCoy. “This crash had all the potentials to be a fatality instead of a personal injury.”
WHPS initially responded to a report of a personal injury crash involving a motor vehicle that had hit a tree head-on, with smoke coming from the vehicle.
While en route, officers were notified the vehicle was on fire but that all known occupants were out of the vehicle, according to WHPS. Arriving officers found one vehicle fully engulfed in flames. Loretto Fire Rescue was on scene extinguishing the fire.
Vehicle traffic on Hennepin County Road 11 was shut down at Hennepin County Road 90 and Hennepin County Road 19 for approximately one hour.
Meihofer had major injuries to her face, a possible broken ankle/leg and neck injuries, according to WHPS. North Memorial Air Care transported Meihofer to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
Preliminary investigation shows there were no 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.
WHPS was assisted by Medina Police Department, Loretto Fire Rescue, Maple Plain Fire Rescue, and North Memorial Air Care and Ambulance.