“He’s a hero.”: Retired paramedic saves Fargo man’s parents from burning car

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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WAHPETON, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A Breckenridge man is being called a hero tonight after he helped pull a man and woman out of a burning car following a crash Sunday afternoon near I-29 and Highway 13 in Richland County.

“In the grand scheme of things, it could have been a whole lot worse,” Jared Hoechst said.

Hoechst served as a paramedic for just six months in Lisbon, N.D. before he moved on to something new, but that short-lived training saved Alberta and Korre Bratland’s lives.

“I mean, he basically saved Thanksgiving and the holidays because if he hadn’t been driving by this would be a very sad story right now. I don’t know if we would have either of them with us,” one of the Bratland’s sons, Rick Lemke said.

Hoechst and his family were on their way to Fargo for fish food when they came across the crash. Both in their 70s, the Bratlands were trapped inside as their vehicle burst into flames.

“I realized if they didn’t come out real quick, the outcome was going to be real poor,” Hoechst said. He says within three minutes of the Bratlands’ vehicle starting on fire, it was fully engulfed in flames. He and two other passersby smashed the passenger window open with a fire extinguisher and pulled Alberta out, then Korre.

“He not only ran up on a burning car and pulled somebody out once, he pulled them to safety and then did it again,” Lemke said.

“At the time we pulled (Korre) out, I couldn’t hardly see him there was so much smoke in the cab,” Hoechst said.

While the Bratlands are still recovering in the hospital, they’re ok, and their family says it’s all thanks to divine intervention sending Hoechst to the rescue.

“A true public servant, absolutely. This guy should get some kind of medal for what he did or honored for sure,” Lemke said.

While many are calling him a hero, Hoechst says he doesn’t agree. He says helping people is just who he is.

“Whenever someone’s on the side of the road, I always pull over and see if they need help. I figure next time it will be me and hopefully a little good karma goes a long way,” Hoechst said.

Lemke says he and his siblings plan to celebrate Thanksgiving a little differently this year by spending the day with their parents at Sanford Hospital.

“I don’t know if I have to sneak in a turkey leg or what, but we will find out!” Lemke laughed.

While Lemke and Hoechst haven’t met in person yet, Lemke says he plans to take his parents’ rescuer to lunch sometime soon to thank him for his selfless actions.

Both men say they hope sharing their story inspires others to offer a helping hand now and beyond the holiday season.