A driver suffered life-threatening injuries after an ambulance and a minivan crashed in Victoria a little after 5 p.m. Thursday.
The minivan’s driver, an elderly man, was flown by helicopter to a San Antonio hospital, said Senior Police Officer Lee Peters, about an hour and a half after the crash. The minivan’s only passenger, an elderly woman, was taken to a Victoria hospital for assessment. Peters was unsure how severely injured the woman was.
A little after 5 p.m., the minivan crashed with a northbound ambulance carrying three Victoria Fire Department members at North Main Street and Spring Creek Drive, said Victoria Fire Chief Tracy Fox. The three fire department members were taken to DeTar Hospital Navarro in stable condition and were released from the ER Thursday evening.
After the crash, the minivan was lying about 30 feet off the roadway in a grassy gully next to a utility pole.
“The one we are mainly concerned with is the driver of the minivan,” Peters said.
Eric Ridyolph, 30, of Cuero, was driving to work when he came upon the crash. Although he said he did not witness the crash, he arrived before police and EMS.
Ridyolph, an ER nurse and a half dozen other people rushed to help the occupants of the minivan, he said.
He got the minivan’s driver’s side door open and turned off the ignition to prevent a fire from starting.
Ridyolph cut the driver’s seat belt off with a knife and removed the man while the ER nurse supported his head and neck. The man appeared unconscious and had deep cuts to his face, he said.
Then, Ridyolph and others went around to the passenger’s side to talk to the woman to keep her from passing out.
Ridyolph said he saw a “sea of vehicles” pulled over on the roadway, and he began yelling for them to clear a path for ambulances. When medics arrived, Ridyolph said he “backed out and left it to professionals.”
Ridyolph said he knew the crash was serious as soon as he saw it.
“Instinct took over,” he said. “I didn’t think. I just reacted.”
Ridyolph said he has 10 years experience as a TDCJ corrections officer, DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office jailer and U.S. Army military police officer. Now, he works for Union Pacific in Bloomington.
“It was the right thing to do,” he said. “I hope someone would do it for me and mine.”