Firefighter, civilian honored for saving man from burning truck

Firefighter Jeremy Menges and John Werner helped try to save a driver at the scene of the crash, and now the Kansas Highway Patrol has named them honorary troopers

Jason Tidd
The Wichita Eagle

PARK CITY, Kan. — When a semi smashed into the back of a pickup on Interstate 135 near Park City, the driver of the burning pickup was trapped inside. Two Wichita-area men helped try to save the driver at the scene of the crash, and now the Kansas Highway Patrol has named them honorary troopers.

John Werner, of Wichita, used a fire extinguisher to attempt to put out the fire on the 2015 Ford F-250 on March 7, the Highway Patrol said in a Thursday news release. Jeremy Menges, of Park City, entered the cab of the burning pickup, where he and a paramedic were able to free the driver. As other first responders were arriving, Menges began life-preserving measures.

The driver of the pickup was Ricardo Torres, a Highway Patrol motorist assist technician. He later died of his injuries at a hospital.

“These two brave men are commended for the assistance they provided to a member of this agency,” said Col. Mark Bruce, superintendent of the Highway Patrol. “Their heroic actions came at great personal risk, and each of them is an extraordinary example to the citizens of Kansas.”

Torres, 69, of Augusta, and his white motorist assist pickup had been in the median of I-135 near 61st North when he pulled onto the inside southbound lane, Trooper Chad Crittenden said at the time. That’s when a semi hit the pickup from behind.

Torres had been a motorist assist technician since 2015. They help change tires, provide fuel, assist with vehicle breakdowns and provide traffic control at crash scenes.

“The Patrol is grateful, and thanks these two brave individuals for their actions performed that day,” the release said. “We are proud to serve in a state with wonderful citizens such as Jeremy Menges and John Werner.”

Menges is a lieutenant with the Wichita Fire Department, the department said in a tweet.

Copyright 2018 The Wichita Eagle

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