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Rescuers push car off man

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Good Samaritans Michael Erbe and Ryan Woodroffe, both on left, work with paramedics and firefighters as they continue to help a Lansford man who was run over by his own car in Coaldale Wednesday. Erbe and Woodroffe…
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Good Samaritans Michael Erbe and Ryan Woodroffe, both on left, work with paramedics and firefighters as they continue to help a Lansford man who was run over by his own car in Coaldale Wednesday. Erbe and Woodroffe prevented the car from causing even more injury to the driver, who was dragged under the car for a distance.
Published April 19. 2012 05:01PM

Two quick-thinking mechanics came to the rescue of a man who was run over by his own car Wednesday on SR209 in Coaldale.

Around 11 a.m., Michael Erbe, owner of Erbe's Tire and Auto in Coaldale, and mechanic Ryan Woodroffe, were working at their shop, which is located on Water Street (SR209), when they heard loud noises and saw smoke coming from a red Saturn car heading east. After seeing the driver of the vehicle pull the car to the side of the road, which was located about 100 feet away, both Erbe and Woodroffe approached the driver, who was revving his car's engine, to offer assistance.

After lifting the car's hood, the driver of the vehicle, George Wenzel, 87, of Lansford, and Erbe spent a short time talking to each other about the problem. While they both were standing in front of the car, the vehicle's transmission popped back into gear and the car started to move forward.

The momentum of the car forced Wenzel, who was standing in front of the passenger's side, completely under it, dragging him for a distance. Erbe, who was standing to the right of Wenzel, quickly reached for the front part of the driver's side door to slow it down.

Erbe's strength was the only thing preventing the car from crushing Wenzel. The force he put on the door's frame was so strong that Erbe ripped off a portion of it.

Desperate to stop the car from continuing to travel forward, Erbe then stuck his foot under the back tire in hopes of slowing or stopping the car from further injuring Wenzel, as well as preventing the vehicle from traversing into oncoming traffic.

Instead, the car drove over Erbe's foot and ankle and struck his shoulder.

"It happened so fast,"said Erbe. At this point, Woodroffe ran to the car's driver's side and jammed down the emergency brake, stopping the car.

A customer of Erbe's, Mike Havrischak, saw the incident and called 911.

The two men then carefully pushed the car off Wenzel, who was bleeding from wounds to his face, hands, shoulder and legs.

"Despite the terrible circumstances, George was very lucky," Timothy Delaney, Coaldale Police Chief, said. "If they (Erbe and Woodroffe) weren't there, it would have turned out much worse."

Wenzel was taken to St. Luke's Hospital - Coaldale Campus, where he was flown via PennSTAR to St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem.

Wenzel's condition was unknown as of press time today.

Responding were Coaldale Police, Coaldale Fire Company and Lansford Ambulance. Coaldale Fire Police volunteers detoured traffic around the scene.

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