Drunk driver causes accident, witnesses credited with saving a man's life

- Three friends from Chisago County are being credited with saving a man’s life, after his car was hit by a drunk driver and sent into a ditch.

Carina Walpole, Christina Williams, and Derek Holt were on their way to play volleyball in Shafer June 16 when they witnessed the crash.

“We were just sitting there waiting to cross Highway 8—which is busy that time of day—when next thing you know there’s two vehicles travelling into the ditch. It just happened so fast.”

The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office says the two cars were travelling eastbound on Highway 8, when the intoxicated driver hit the side of the other car, sending it into the ditch.

“It’s so hard to explain because you see it and you don’t even think twice—you just jump right to it and do whatever you can,” said Walpole.

Walpole and Williams were chest deep in water, holding the victims head up and telling him to hold out for first responders.

“It’s about as bad a car crash as we can get,” said Shafer Fire Department Assistant Chief Ed Kubicki.

Kubicki presented Walpole, Williams and Holt life saving awards Wednesday. He said he has no doubt the outcome would have been different had they not jumped in to help. 

“They didn’t have to, they could have kept going, but they chose to stop and help,” he said.

The victim, identified by family as Steve Rainer, suffered ten broken ribs, a broken pelvis, ruptured spleen, collapsed lung and traumatic brain injury.

His wife, Vicki, said he is still in the hospital but should be home in two weeks. She said she’s sure her husband wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the brave efforts by complete strangers.

“He has a long road ahead of him, but if it hadn’t been for these people, he wouldn’t be travelling that road,” she said.

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