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A routine business trip becomes anything but routine

Published Feb. 25, 2014
Brett Coleman, left, and Terry Williams are the project managers for the proposed Fargo, N.D./Moorhead, Minn., diversion channel project.

Brett Coleman, left, and Terry Williams are the project managers for the proposed Fargo, N.D./Moorhead, Minn., diversion channel project.

A routine business trip to Fargo, N.D., for two project managers was anything but normal when they came across a vehicle in the ditch.

Terry Williams and Brett Coleman, both in project management, were heading toward Fargo for a meeting when they noticed a vehicle had gone in the ditch along Interstate 94, near Barnsville, Minn., Jan. 9. 

Not knowing whether there were any injuries, Coleman said they decided to pull over and see if anyone needed their assistance. Williams said the Ford F150 truck was lying on its driver side and the trailer that was attached to the truck was upside down in the snow bank. 

As the two project managers surveyed the situation, Williams said it quickly became apparent that there were multiple people in the vehicle, including small children.

Coleman said he noticed a guy standing next to the truck holding a small child. He approached the man to offer his assistance, and he soon had a small child in his arms. Coleman said he passed the child off to another bystander that had stopped to help before turning his attention toward the truck. He said he first noticed the mom standing up in the truck. After helping her get out of the vehicle through the missing sun roof, he retrieved a few of her personal belongings before turning his attention toward the three children.

“The kids made no sound but were carefully watching everything,” said Coleman. “One by one, the kids were removed and taken to another vehicle to wait for emergency vehicles.”

Coleman said the seat belt was stuck on the last kid so he used his pocket knife to start cutting the belt. “About half way thru the seat belt, the mechanism released, and the kid was free,” he said. “Once freed, the kid dug through the snow in the cab to find his handheld gaming system.” 

After everyone had been safely removed from the vehicle, Coleman said he and Williams continued to stay with the family and reassure them that everything was going to be OK. 

Williams said, “Brett’s leadership and quick action directly resulted in the family getting to safety.” The two project managers waited until emergency responders arrived before leaving the scene. Coleman added, “Once state patrol arrived, and [we] saw ambulances coming, our help was no longer needed or required, so Terry and I continued on our trip to Fargo.”