Saving a life – all in a day’s work for these two from the Williams garage

Trailer in the woodsWhat started as a short trip to Iowa Falls to bid a co-worker goodbye on his retirement turned into something completely different on Nov. 30 for Chris Glenn and Jerid Ratzke from the Williams garage.

The pair were traveling on U.S. 20 when they noticed something strange off in the distance. Ratzke said, “At first I thought it might be a twisted billboard, but then we got closer and noticed that it was the trailer from a semi.”

Because it was so unusual to see a trailer off the road and into a wooded area, Ratzke and Glenn decided to investigate. Ratzke said, “It was still dark, so we couldn’t see it very well from the road. When we got closer, we saw there were mangled pieces of the tractor and trailer hanging from a tree. The cab was still attached to the trailer, but it was rolled on its side.”

Debris in the treeThat’s when they heard the calls for help. “When we heard the driver calling out, we did everything we could to get to him,” said Glenn.

Ratzke said, “We immediately called 911 and started ripping down tree branches left and right. We didn’t have tools with us, so we just had to use our hands to get the brush out of the way. Once we reached the driver, we started talking to him to try and keep him calm. He wanted us to get him out, but we couldn’t get to him, and he was hanging from this seatbelt in the truck.”

Luckily there was a state trooper close by. Glenn continued, “When the trooper got there, he took over trying to help the driver and kept him calm until first responders got there to get him out. The driver said he thought he had been there a couple of hours. It was cold, so we were all worried about hypothermia. Jerid and I started to clear the area as best we could so the first responders could get to the truck. When they got there, they had equipment to help clear the area, so we worked to get an area open for a life-flight helicopter if that was needed.”

First respondersOnce first responders were on the scene, Glenn and Ratzke continued to help out as needed, assisting in setting up the “jaws of life” with the emergency crews to get the driver out of the cab.

“Once the driver was out of the truck and on his way to the hospital, we had some time to think about what just happened,” said Glenn. “We both think we just did what anyone else would have done in the situation.”

Following the incident, the state trooper who responded stopped by the garage to give Glenn and Ratzke an update on the driver. The trooper told them that the driver had thought he was going to breathe his last breath in that mangled semi, but now he was on the road to recovery. He had several broken bones and internal injuries but was expected to survive. He noted that if Chris and Jerid had not done what they did to clear away the brush, it would have been much more difficult for first responders to reach the driver, saving his life.


Chris Glenn and Jerid Ratzke
Chris Glenn and Jerid Ratzke

In addition to information from the state trooper, the family of the driver, a 67-year-old man from Des Moines, has reached out to thank Glenn and Ratzke for their efforts and keep them updated on the driver’s condition.

Thank you to Jerid and Chris for living out our core value of people matter and proving that we not only make lives better through transportation, but sometimes we literally save a life through our actions.

You guys are the best. Awesome!

Give them a great commendation. We all breath the same air. Thanks for saving these brother humans.

God put you in that time and place for a reason I believe. Good job for both of you!!

Great job guys! Its guys like you that make Iowa a great place to work and live!!

Great to see that you are representing the IDOT in such a great fashion!!

Great Job guys!

Iowa nice definitely coupled with public servant is a winning combination!

Thank you guys! Great job.

Thank you for helping out! You guys are truly dedicated and caring! The world needs more people like you!

It is amazing that you both were in the right place at the right time to help out! Great job both of you!!

True heroes; Iowa nice, humble and compassionate! Great job!

What an amazing and life saving feat Chris & Jerid, thank you for doing what you do.

Good job you two!!!! Thanks for making a difference!

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