ENGADINE, Mich. (WJMN) – For Mike Laudenslager, Tom Loya, Kevin Ackley and Zach Green who are carpenters from Newberry, what started out as an average day in November to a job site along H-40, the Hiawatha Trail in Engadine, turned into anything but ordinary.
“I remember we were running about right on schedule for what we usually would be every day,” said Laudenslager. “It snowed and froze the night before pretty good. The roads were pretty slippery, so it was about 40 miles per hour the whole way there.”
“We were coming down the road,” said Ackley. “We had seen that there was a truck in the ditch we didn’t know who was in it, what happened. There was one guy on the side of the road. We stopped and tried to get his attention and he acted like he didn’t need help and I looked at Mike and was like, ‘You can’t see the windows in that truck. There is no way that guy was in that truck when it rolled.’ I was like, ‘we gotta turn around and help.'”
It was a woman trapped in a flipped truck, in a swampy area.
“Thought like man if someone is in there; we couldn’t tell if they got out or not because there is no tracks or nothing so we stopped and were like, ‘Man,'” said Green. “So, we got out and that’s when our buddy Tom started asking the woman questions and heard the screaming and just kind of like panic.”
Adrenaline kicked in for these men to get this woman out safely.
“That’s when we start tearing a part the truck, trying to find some kind of tool and then we got a hammer,” said Laudenslager. “So, we all hopped over there and mind you, we had to wade through about a ways feet of swamp water in about 29 degrees out. So, I mean it was chilly, but it didn’t matter.”
“We went over there started prying on the door and getting that all loosened up,” said Ackley. “We were trying to get her out any way that we could. Well, that wasn’t working too well and everyone else was telling us to stop. But we did get the door pried open like this much.. and bent… we couldn’t see into the vehicle, but we could hear her a little bit better. And then water was coming in so then when we stopped, Tom finally came up with a conclusion, ‘Hey, why don’t you try to unlock the doors?’ It was a silly question, but we heard the doors pop and we… I don’t know it was like a sign of relief I would think. That door popped open, and we started wedging all of our weight in there and by the time the four of us pried on that door, we wedged it all the way open and we could get the woman out.”
Once they knew she was okay, the men went on their way to work, but if they had not stopped, they don’t know how long it would have been before she got the help she needed.
“When we got there Tom was touching the vehicle. The tailpipe and everything was extremely cold so she had to have been there for a little while,” said Ackley.
“We were definitely happy that we were able to help, especially after seeing so many cars pass by even while we were there,” said Laudenslager. “I mean there was at least 20 cars that went by when we were just standing there.”
“I felt like I did something good,” said Green. “I mean I would want someone to do that for me too. Hearing the woman scream, it kind of made me think like of my wife at home, if that was her, I’d want someone to help her out too.”
“We can do more to help out each other around here,” said Ackley. “If we see someone in the ditch like that, we’re just going five more miles down the road. 20 minutes out of our day, or 30 minutes out of our day to make sure a life is okay, you know that’s worth my time.”