FCA design chief Ralph Gilles uses Jeep to help couple in fiery wreck

Gilles' Wrangler pushes a burning vehicle away

Fiat Chrysler's head of design Ralph Gilles recently rendered assistance at a fiery crash scene that left one dead. Gilles helped two people trapped inside a vehicle following a pair of collisions that left them pressed up against a burning vehicle. He used his Jeep Wrangler to nudge a Ford Edge engulfed in flames across the road. The 57-year-old female passenger who was trapped inside the other car was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The first crash happened early Sunday, Feb. 18, in a rural area north of Detroit when a 2013 Ford Fiesta carrying the woman and her husband collided head-on with a 2013 Ford Edge that had crossed the center line. The driver of that vehicle sustained minor injuries; police said alcohol is believed to have played a role.

Gilles was driving home with his wife, Doris, when they came upon the accident, stopped and called 911. He told the Oxford Leader he and the driver of the Edge tried to help the couple in the Fiesta, but none of the doors would open. After Gilles went to move his Wrangler out of the way, he saw a Buick LeSabre broadside the already-crippled Fiesta and push it up against the Edge, which then caught fire. With the couple still trapped inside the Fiesta, Gilles got the idea to put the Wrangler into four-wheel drive and push the Edge to the opposite shoulder using his Jeep.

A long and sad night a week ago I will never forget. By now many of you have read the story. We were first on the scene. I am NOT a hero, I think most people would have tried to help somehow. Understanding cars and their limitations may have played a factor sure. What ultimately turned out to be a 2 hour ordeal for us as we filled out Police reports, gave us a unique view of the whole process. It made us appreciate the true heroes. The first responders, Firemen/women, EMS and Police who deal with this stuff everyday day. It also made Doris and I realize how life can change in moments. Had I been standing in between the two crashed cars as I was just moments prior to the third car arriving. I likely would be part of history. Lets all drive heads up all the time. My deepest condolences to the family of the woman who sadly passed away at the hospital.

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"I still have no idea where that (thought) came from," Gilles told the Leader. "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."

Firefighters were later able to extract the couple from the Fiesta and transport them to a hospital. The woman was then airlifted to a second hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her husband was listed in stable condition.

Gilles posted a short video of the burning vehicle on Instagram and wrote that he was "NOT a hero."
"It made us appreciate the true heroes. The first responders, Firemen/women, EMS and Police who deal with this stuff every day," he wrote.

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