Woman rescued after driving through fence, causing gas leak

CREATED May 27, 2014 - UPDATED: May 28, 2014

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  • Vada Wirtz, 21, of Elkhorn. Image by Walworth County Sheriff's Office

WATERFORD - A woman drove through a fence and caused a natural gas leak at We Energies in Waterford. Because of the leak, crews had a hard time getting to the trapped driver.  

When the car hit a fence, the driver was not buckled up. She was thrown onto the passenger's side floor, but her foot got caught under the brake and there was an urgent need to get her out. We obtained a 911 call.

Racine County dispatch:  "911 what is the emergency?"

Caller:  "Yeah we've got an accident on Highway 20."

Neighbors heard the crash that took down this fence, but another sound made them back away from the scene.

Racine County dispatch:  "Can you tell if the gas is hissing?"

Caller:  "Pardon?"

Racine County dispatch:  "Is the gas hissing?"

Caller: " Yes the gas is hissing."

Caller: "You get away from it so it doesn't blow!"

Dispatchers advised everyone to get back.  Deputies also evacuated homes on Honey Creek as a precaution.

"So if you can imagine, just one spark we would've had a serious serious situation there," said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.

Sheriff Schmaling says the car was filling up with the odor of gas and something needed to be done fast. A second shift lieutenant pulled onto the scene and took action.

"He could see the occupant lying down on the seat. She was bleeding heavily from her facial area, asked her if she was okay. She indicated that she couldn't get out. That she was in fact trapped and she was crying," said Sheriff Schmaling.

That lieutenant rescued the woman, 21-year-old Vada Wirtz of Elkhorn. Charged with OWI, but lucky to be alive.

Sheriff Schmaling's planning to give the lieutenant, who's got about 16 years with the department, an award for his actions.  "So I'm very proud of my deputy for saving this young lady's life. He put his own life before another and that is something we intend to honor," said Schmaling.
Neighbors call this is a dangerous curve and even though there are now yellow warning signs and lights, people still drive too fast on it and there have been other very serious crashes here.