DETROIT -- Ralph Gilles, head of design at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, was first on the scene of an accident early Sunday, Feb. 18., and is credited with coming to the victims' aid.
Gilles, who grew up in Montreal, and his wife were driving home when they came upon the scene of a head-on crash between a Ford Edge and a Ford Fiesta in Addison Township, Mich., a suburb about an hour north of Detroit. The driver of the Edge was under the influence, according to police, and expected to face charges after Misty Considine, 57, of Goodrich, Mich., a passenger in the Fiesta, later died of her injuries.
The Fiesta and Edge crashed when the driver of the Edge lost control and crossed the center line. Gilles arrived on the scene shortly after in his Jeep Wrangler, pulled off the road, had his wife call 911, and tried to help. At that moment, a woman driving a Buick LeSabre who failed to see the disabled vehicles crashed into the Fiesta, which slid into the Edge, setting the bigger crossover's engine on fire. Because the occupants of the Fiesta were trapped in the damaged vehicle, the quick-thinking Gilles used his Jeep to push the burning Edge away to the side of the road.
"I still have no idea where that [thought] came from," Gilles told the Oxford Leader newspaper. "The only thing I can remember thinking [is] I've got a Jeep, it's got a bumper on it, I think I can do this. All I could think about were the two people still inside the other car. Luckily, we had the Jeep that night. I put it in four-wheel drive and it worked perfectly."
Gilles was praised for his actions.
"That guy did a pretty heroic thing," Fire Chief Jerry Morawski told the Leader. "I think the guy did a great job, it could have been worse."
"Looking at the situation, there was no other option," Gilles said.
"It's important to stop [whenever there's an accident]. It's kind of what you're supposed to do," Gilles noted. "Every time I see something like that, I always at least inquire if they need help."