by Alan McArthur
traveling to Wyandotte County to a uniform supply store in Kansas when he saw a wreck occur on Interstate 435.
According to reports of the wreck, a northbound car driven by a 17 year old of Johnson County struck a northbound tractor-trailer driven by Richard Anglen, 40, of Silver City, Iowa. The car bounced off the truck and the truck struck the bridge rail where I-435 goes over Metropolitan Avenue.
The truck then flipped over the rail and struck the embankment under the bridge. During the wreck, Anglen was ejected from the truck and landed amid the wreckage of the disintegrated vehicle.
Romig was driving southbound along Interstate 435 when he saw the wreck occur and stopped to help.
“It was like a bad movie. I saw the truck go airborne and saw it impact the ground on the other side of the bridge,” said Romig. “The truck pretty much disintegrated and I could see the guy laying in the wreckage as parts of the truck were beginning to burn.”
When Romig got there he saw the driver of the truck in need and tried to help him.
“I didn’t think much about it, I just saw a guy laying there and I figured I needed to get him out of (the truck),” said Romig. “He wasn’t conscious when I got to him, but I dragged him out, we got about 5 to 10 feet out and by that time he was already pretty bad off.”
The situation could have turned more dangerous very quickly, but did not.
“I didn’t think about it until later, but that truck had every chance to blow up and it didn’t,” said Romig.
After Anglen was pulled from the wreck, he was airlifted to a nearby hospital. However, he was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.
Romig wishes he could meet with the man’s family just to talk with them.
“The guy was single and I kind of wish I could get a hold of his family and talk with them,” said Romig. “I don’t know what I’d say, I don’t even know if it would help.”
Romig was only near the fire for a few minutes while trying to pull Anglen away, but he received first and second degree burns over the majority of his arms. The day of the accident, he was transported to the KU Medical Center for burn treatment.
“I didn’t realize it was burning so hot,” said Romig. “It was already a hot day and I just thought it was the sun. It took a while afterward to get the blisters.”
Doctors performed a skin graft from his thigh to put on his arms. According to doctors, Romig will have to wear compression wraps for anywhere from six months to two years to keep the skin from turning into scar tissue.
Especially around his joints, if the skin turns to scar tissue it could seriously hinder his movement.
When Romig saw the wreck happen, he simply reacted and did what he felt he should.
“All I was thinking about was trying to get him out at the time,” said Romig. “Nothing prepares you for that kind of thing, it’s just a reaction. It’s just something you do. You don’t really know what you would do in that situation until it happens. I just hope that someone else would do the same for me if it were reversed.”
Thinking back on the accident and his actions, Romig wouldn’t change the way he reacted.
“I would not change much about what I did,” said Romig. “There was not time to wait for the emergency personnel when it happened. I’d definitely try to avoid getting burned. But I’d do it again in an instant.”
Romig thinks the situation actually helped him better understand how he’d react in a crisis.
“It’s sort of nice to know that if a situation occurs again, I know how I’ll react to it,” said Romig.
One of the biggest things Romig looks forward to the most is getting back to work.
“I hope to get back as soon as possible, I hate being off,” said Romig. “I enjoy my job and it’ll be nice to get back and see everybody I work with.”