An Ellsworth man pulled a child out of a fiery crash that killed the other four occupants of an SUV after it slammed into the rear of a parked semi Tuesday morning on I-70, the Kansas Highway Patrol said.
Mike Homeier, 37, arrived at the scene moments after the crash just west of Salina. Fire had already consumed much of the SUV when he broke out a rear window and rescued the 8-year-old boy. The other four people in the vehicle were already dead, Trooper Ben Gardner said.
“This individual made a big difference for this child,” Gardner said.
The boy was taken to a Salina hospital, where he was interacting with medical staff, Gardner said. His condition wasn’t known.
Homeier lives near the accident site, which is about 30 miles west of Salina. He declined to talk about his actions.
Shortly after 9:30 a.m., the SUV was traveling east on I-70 just east of K-14 at a high rate of speed when it hit the semi, Gardner said.
The semi was parked on the shoulder of the highway because of mechanical problems, Gardner said.
The driver, who was not injured, had placed warning markers along the highway, he added.
The fire made it difficult to determine how many people were in the SUV. At one point, troopers thought five people had been killed.
Identification of the victims had not been released as of late Tuesday afternoon. They were Colorado residents, Gardner said.
Eastbound I-70 was closed for almost five hours while investigators worked the accident.