Trampuss Ehrlich is a stout man with large hands who apparently doesn’t know his own strength. At least he didn’t Tuesday night.
That proved to be a good thing when he was driving on Tin Top Highway, saw the aftermath of a one-vehicle rollover and pulled off the roadway to see if he could do anything to help.
Boy, could he.
Ehrlich, a 46-year-old Hood County resident, said he was driving home from a convenience store in that area, northwest of Granbury, when he spotted a Honda del Sol passenger car upside down on an embankment several feet off the roadway.
“I saw a car in the ditch, and I saw a kid was pinned underneath it,” Ehrlich said after the accident, which occurred shortly after 10 p.m. near the intersection with Roberson Court. “I threw on my hazards, grabbed a flashlight and did what I could.”
Ehrlich could see that the 22-year-old passenger in the car, Jason Putz, not only was conscious but also trying to pull himself from underneath the vehicle. Remarkably, Ehrlich soon learned that it was Jason Putz, stepson of his own insurance agent, Dawn Putz.
“Justin was pushing (against the car) and panicking,” said Ehrlich, who used to work with Dawn’s husband, Jack Putz Jr. “I was at the back end lifting up, and he got up.”
That was when Ehrlich’s adrenaline boost kicked in. At that moment, he said later, the car didn’t really seem terribly heavy.
But, he said, “That only lasts for about five minutes, and then it’s gone. It’s the initial shock that gets you going. When you’ve got to do something, you’ve got to do it.
“He was pinned at the waist. I just picked it up and he shot out of there. He said, ‘I’m fine.’”
While checking to see if there was any gasoline leaking out of the vehicle, he heard Putz say that his friend was still trapped under the car.
It was Tim Gross, 21, who had been driving the vehicle. First responders had to use lifting devices to get the weight of the car off of him before he could be pulled out.
Ehrlich said he feared Gross had far more severe injuries because his head appeared to be pinned down by part of the car.
“The windshield was sitting on his head,” Ehrlich said. “His neck could have been broken, so I told him it was best to stay where he’s at. I said, ‘You’ve just go to wait, dude.’”
Ehrlich was flown from the site to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth by air ambulance. Late Wednesday afternoon, a JPS spokesman said that Gross was not listed as a patient there.
Putz had only minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to Lake Granbury Medical Center, according to his grateful step-mom.
“I’m glad he helped my son,” Dawn Putz said of Ehrlich. “I’m grateful because if he hadn’t pulled Jason out, Jason couldn’t have called (on his cell phone). They might have been here all night.”
Ehrlich said that he noticed vehicles driving past the crash site, full speed ahead, after he pulled over and turned on his emergency flashers.
“Two cars didn’t slow down,” he said. “They nearly hit my car.”
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