Support our mission

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — A U.S. soldier helped pull a 78-year-old woman out of a burning car after an accident near the Army base here, likely saving her life, German police said.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Cross, 25, of the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck was one of two drivers who stopped when they saw the accident Friday morning on a rural stretch of highway near Königstein, south of Bayreuth, according to police.

“If the two had not pulled the woman out of the car, the fire would have got her,” said German police officer Martin Hasler, who responded to the scene.

Cross said he was only doing what was necessary.

“It’s a humbling thing to do for another human being that’s in need,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s the decent and right thing to do.”

The woman was driving on highway B85, some 20 minutes west of Vilseck when a motorcycle struck her car , causing it to careen off the road and into a tree, according to police in Auerbach.

The car’s engine caught fire, Hasler said.

“It was just a very short time until the flames moved on from the engine to inside the car,” he said.

Cross, 25, said he was driving home to Auerbach after work when he spotted the ambulance, noticed the engine fire and got out to help. Paramedics were focused on the injured motorcycle rider, he said, and a single police officer was battling the engine fire, to little effect. The driver, meanwhile, appeared to be in shock, Cross said. Her seatbelt was still buckled, and her legs appeared to be stuck.

With the other driver who stopped to help, Fabian Schrödl, a 19-year-old German from the city of Creußen, Cross helped pull the woman out through the passenger door, as the driver-side door was damaged and would not open. The car was engulfed a minute or two later, Cross said.

Hasler said he arrived on the scene to find Cross tending to the woman while Schrödl stayed with the motorcyclist, a 17-year-old, who was taken from the scene with life-threatening injuries. Flames from the car were several feet high, he said.

Police had no further information Tuesday on the condition of the victims. Cross said he had heard they both were in critical condition.

Hasler, a police officer for more than 25 years, said Cross and Schrödl deserve awards for their actions, such as the Kavalier der Strasse award, given to good Samaritans on German roads.

Cross said he was just glad to help.

“I think the attention I received from it - it’s welcoming, I appreciate it,” he said, “but like I said, it’s the decent thing to do.”

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up