Thursday, January 31, 2008

While rescuer called 911,
drunken crash victim stole and wrecked his car.

Friends Chase Torgerson and Cody Charpentier saw a car fly through the air and crash into a median divider on a dark and frigid northwestern Minnesota highway

"Everyone all right?! Everyone all right?!" Torgerson hollered toward the mangled metal as he and Charpentier ran from their car to the crash scene shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

Torgerson approached a man who was dangling out of two of the blown-out windows. He tended to the badly injured passenger, even putting his own gloves on the victim as gusty winds made the temperature feel like minus-34. At the same time, his bare hand held his cellphone to his ear as he called 911 for help.

"Chase! Turn around! Your car!" Charpentier screamed. The next thing Torgerson knew, he was chasing on foot after his car, which suddenly had been commandeered by one of the people from the crashed car who hadn't been injured. "What can I do?" he recalled. "There goes my car. I'm still on the line with 911." About 800 yards down the highway, Torgerson's car was rolled and totaled.

"Look what you get for your trouble," State Patrol Capt. Dick Wittenberg said of Torgerson's good deed. "You get your car stolen." Unfortunately, he added, this incident sends a "bad message -- don't be a good Samaritan."

Officers responding to the scene had their own excitement in making the arrests. The car thief had to be chased down on foot. With the help of a police dog, police found the driver hiding under a truck.

The badly hurt passenger whom Torgerson had comforted was in stable condition Wednesday at a hospital. Wittenberg said all three people in the first vehicle were "heavily intoxicated" at the time. (info from Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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