Two people died and a third was seriously injured in a two-vehicle crash on S.D. Highway 37 about four miles south of Mitchell on Wednesday.
According to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, a southbound 2006 Saturn Relay drifted into the northbound lane and collided with a northbound 2004 GMC Sierra pickup. Both vehicles caught fire. Both drivers died in the crash. Neither was wearing a seatbelt.
Brandon Sandoz was driving on Highway 37 with his friend and girlfriend at the time, and arrived at the crash before emergency crews.
"I ran up to the van and there was a little girl in the backseat. That was my first concern. I checked her pulse and she still had a pulse. I checked the woman in the front seat. She didn't have a pulse at the time. That's when I pulled – didn't use a knife – I pulled her out and brought to Corey's pickup truck. And we put her on the tailgate," said Sandoz.
Sandoz says the front end of the van was damaged so extensively that it was impossible to pull the woman in the driver's seat out as well. Within minutes of pulling the girl from the van, it was fully engulfed in flames.
Sandoz and his friends soon noticed a gas line going from the van to the pickup. They knew if there was any hope of getting the man in the truck out, they would have to take action.
Sandoz says, with the help of a farmer who had stopped, they used a chain to pull the pickup into the ditch and away from the burning van.
Before the pickup caught fire, they were able to get the male driver out. Despite efforts to resuscitate him, he died at the scene.
The child was taken to a Mitchell hospital and then airlifted to a Sioux Falls hospital.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating. Davison County Sheriff's Office, Mitchell Fire Department and Ethan Fire Department assisted.
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