Siouxland man honored for his life-saving actions - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland man honored for his life-saving actions

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DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (KTIV) -

Each day, ordinary people do heroic things.

One Siouxland man was honored for his life-saving actions.

"Remember myself without thinking, saying 'God, please don't let this man burn,' " said Hohenstein.

It was on the way home from a Memorial Day celebration in Le Mars, Iowa.

"I was just watching his tail lights as he was driving, and noticed that the tail lights had swung really hard to the left and so I knew the vehicle had hit something," said Hohenstein.

The crossing arms above the railroad on Highway 77 had fallen, causing the crash.

"He was moving his head slightly, but it had been a pretty horrific wreck," said Hohenstein.

Pinned inside his vehicle, the man was in danger, but not as much danger as he would be in a few minutes.

"I didn't notice any flames when I first went in and initially took a look at the gentleman to see if he could get out," said Hohenstein. "As I stepped out a few seconds later I noticed that a fire had started."

Hohenstein tried putting out the flames and pulling the man out of the vehicle. Neither worked. So he went to the passenger side and was able to free one leg. But the flames were spreading - time was running out.

"The driver had become coherent enough to look and turn his head to me and just kept saying, 'help me, help me,'" said Hohenstein.

Preparing for the worst, Hohenstein made one last effort.

"I went back in one more time, reached under each armpit, pulled as hard as I could and for whatever reason, he just popped out," said Hohenstein.

A happy ending to a potentially tragic story and a heroism award from the Dakota County Sheriff's office to boot.

"It's a really good feeling to be recognized for that," said Hohenstein. "Those guys that put those badges on every day, they do stuff like that on a fairly consistent basis."

That's something Hohenstein has experienced he is a former sheriff's deputy, serving from 1985 to 1992.

"It brings back an awful lot of memories, and those are a lot of memories that aren't good memories," said Hohenstein.

But thanks to Hohenstein's actions, this is an accident from which there will be no bad memories. 

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