Man rescues several people from van flipped along MN highway

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 8:23 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 19, 2022 at 5:14 PM CST
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NEAR FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (Valley News Live) - A man rescued 7 people on his way home Sunday night, pulling them from a mini van that slid on glare ice and tipped over in a ditch.

Around 7:45 PM, Jim Maas says he was on his way home from Wahpeton on Highway 210 when he saw the van in the ditch between Foxhome and Fergus Falls.

Amela Muratovic and her family of eight were driving back to their home in Fergus Falls from Wahpeton when Muratovic says she tried to pass another vehicle.

“All I remember is we started spinning three or four times in the middle of the road and then we rolled over,” she said.

Inside the van with Muratovic were five children, her mother-in-law and her two sisters-in-law trapped upside down either crunched on top of one another or pinned by heavy grocery items.

“I was screaming somebody help, please help us!” Muratovic said.

Maas says he has no rescue experience, referring to himself as “a restaurant guy”, but says his instincts kicked in. He tells Valley News Live that he had the driver use a set of windshield wipers to unlock the doors. He was then able to get the rear hatch open and pulled 7 people, including children, out the back. He says many were pinned under each other. He put the children in his vehicle with his wife to stay warm, adding that several of them were only wearing slippers on their feet.

“Some of them were pinned three-high. They were pinned underneath each other, so finally, we got all those out,” Maas said. “Then Grandma was pinned underneath Mom in the front.”

“If it wasn’t for him, God knows what would have happened,” Muratovic said.

Muratovic says it’s a Christmas miracle no one was injured and that her family gets to be together this holiday season. She says she hopes her story reminds drivers no matter how familiar you are with driving in the winter, Mother Nature isn’t one to mess with.

“I never thought it would happen to us. To be honest, I just want people to, if it’s not necessary to go out, stay in as much as you can and when you’re out, be careful as much as you can. Just pray you make it home safely,” she said.