When Ralph Gilles woke up on February 18th, he had no idea how quickly his day would change. The head of design for FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) was on his way home from an event with his wife Doris in their Jeep Wrangler when they came across a multi-vehicle accident that had just happened. According to a report by the Oxford Leader, a Ford Edge crossed the center line and struck a Ford Fiesta head-on. The Gilles were the first ones on the scene. Ralph told a reporter from the Oxford Leader, “It looked like it had just happened based on the steam and the fact the gentleman driving the Edge was clearly just getting out of his car”. While Doris called 911, Ralph and the driver of the Edge tried to help the couple in the Fiesta but couldn’t get the jammed doors to release.
That’s when Ralph decided to move his Wrangler to the side of the road. While doing so, a Buick LeSabre driving down the road didn’t see the accident and struck the Fiesta. The collision involving the LeSabre resulted in all three vehicles becoming tangled up. Things got worse when the Edge burst into flames. Being as the couple were trapped inside the Fiesta, Ralph quickly used his Wrangler to push the burning Edge to the opposite shoulder, away from the other two vehicles. Ralph told the reporter, “I still have no idea where that thought came from. 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. I figured the fire department would take a while to get there . . . at that time of day. I had to do something fast. I give the Jeep a lot of credit because had I been in my Dodge Challenger, I wouldn’t have had the traction to do it. Luckily, we had the Jeep that night. I put it in four-wheel drive and it worked perfectly.”
Shortly after, emergency services arrived on scene and extracted the couple from the crumpled Fiesta and transported them to hospital. Unfortunately the passenger passed away just hours later. The driver is listed in stable condition and the other parties involved received minor injuries. On February 25th, Ralph posted on Instagram sharing dash cam video of the accident scene along with a statement shown below.
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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.