West Hennepin Public Safety responded just after 8 p.m. Wednesday to a report of a personal injury accident involving a motor vehicle that had hit a tree head-on. The crash was in the area of County Road 11 and Independence Street.
While en-route the officers were notified that the vehicle was on fire but all known occupants had been extracted. Arriving officers found one vehicle fully engulfed in flames, and Loretto Fire Rescue was on the scene extinguishing the fire. Vehicle traffic on County Road 11 was shut down at County Road 90 and County Road 19 for approximately one hour.
The driver of the 2000 Dodge Caravan, 24-year-old Rockford resident Brittany Meihofer, 24, had been pulled from her burning vehicle and was treated by Loretto Fire Department.
Meihofer had major injuries to her face, a possible broken ankle/leg and neck injuries. Preliminary investigation shows there were no skid marks leading up to the vehicle leaving the roadway, going down into the ditch and striking a tree. The van had severe front end damage and the entire interior was burnt.
A passerby, James Buck, 50, from Independence was driving westbound on County Road 11 when he noticed vehicle brake lights down in the eastbound ditch. James immediately pulled his vehicle to the side of the road to assist. As he approached the vehicle, James observed smoke coming from the vehicle, opened the door and pulled Meihofer out of the vehicle in fear that it was going to start on fire.
Seconds after pulling Meihofer out of the vehicle, her vehicle went up in flames.
“Thanks to James Bucks observation and immediate actions to pull Meihofer from her vehicle, she is alive today," Director Ray McCoy stated. "This crash had all the potentials to be a fatality instead of a personal injury.”
North Memorial Air Care transported Meihofer to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
WHPS was assisted by Medina Police Department, Loretto Fire Rescue, Maple Plain Fire Rescue and North Memorial Air Care and Ambulance with Meihofer’s injuries and diverting traffic.