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Good Samaritans recount rescue of Fargo driver from water-filled ditch

“We were just doing the right thing,” one rescuer said. “Adrenaline kicked in. I didn’t even notice the water temperature. My heart rate didn’t come down for about three hours.”

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These still video images show Shannon Aughinbaugh's wrecked car. Two good Samaritans pulled Aughinbaugh to safety after her car crashed into a water-filled ditch on Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022, near Evansville, Minnesota.
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EVANSVILLE, Minn. — Ryan Huso, his wife Rachel and their goldendoodle Arlo were coming home from celebrating Easter with family when they saw brake lights and a car upside down in a water-filled ditch along Interstate 94.

The weather had turned bitter. Snow covered the road. Steam rose from the upside-down Lexus. Ahead of Huso, another car had pulled over, and a man named Kyle Rohlfs and his family yelled they were calling 911.

“I ran down into the water not knowing if anybody was in there. I didn’t witness it. I just ran into the water not knowing, but it looked fairly new,” Huso said.

“I got to the car and I looked, and the whole thing was underwater, and I just started yanking on the door handle. It was buried in the mud. I suppose I got it about 80% open,” Huso said.

Ryan Huso and his wife, Rachel.jpeg
Ryan Huso and his wife, Rachel.
Special to The Forum

Rohlfs, an insurance salesman, and Huso, a truck driver, managed to pry the door completely open, Huso said.

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“I guess I just went aggressive mode and dove down up to my neck and I felt her. The car was pitch black, the mud, you couldn’t see anything. All of the sudden, I felt her and she started kicking, so I grabbed her, and pulled her out. She said she found an air pocket,” Huso said.

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow confirmed the crash happened at about 1:30 p.m. on Easter Sunday, April 17, and that the “good Samaritan” rescue occurred before emergency crews arrived.

Rohlfs and his wife, Tasha, and their two children saw the crash occur.

Rohlfs noticed a car, which he learned later was driven by Fargo resident Shannon Aughinbaugh, passed him and his family on I-94 near mile marker 82 close to Evansville, Minn.

“Not more than 4 to 5 seconds later, her car started turning sideways in the right lane and I couldn’t tell if she hit the drier shoulder, but all the sudden the car just flipped up. It looked like the movies. It was surreal,” Rohlfs said.

Then he saw the splash. “My wife Tasha got on the phone and called 911. I couldn’t stop right away so I stopped 100 or 150 yards ahead of where she went in,” Rohlfs said.

“When I got there Ryan was in the water getting the door open and he had it open quite a ways, and I helped him open it as much as I could. He was able to reach in a little further and all of the sudden an arm popped out of the water and then she came out of the water,” Rohlfs said.

Huso brought Aughinbaugh to his car where his wife provided clothes, boots and a blanket. Arlo, their dog, barked at first with a stranger so close, but then snuggled up to Aughinbaugh as if to keep her warm, Huso said.

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The Huso family dog, Arlo, a goldendoodle.jpeg
The Huso family dog, Arlo, a goldendoodle.
Special to The Forum

They drove to the nearest exit and waited for emergency workers to arrive. The Ashby Fire Department, the Minnesota State Patrol and others soon responded.

The crash left Aughinbaugh with only a scrape on her knee, and she’s back at work.

She said she hit black ice and her vehicle rolled. The cabin of her car filled with water and she managed to unbuckle her seat belt and swim to a small air pocket.

“I’m in awe of their willingness to even approach the vehicle as neither of them knew whether or not someone was inside,” Aughinbaugh said.

Kyle Rohlfs, his wife Tasha, and their two children, Reagan and Carson..jpg
Kyle Rohlfs, his wife Tasha and their two children.
Special to The Forum

“I’m feeling really lucky to be here. I don’t believe I would be here if it wasn’t for them. I don’t know how much time I had with the air pocket that I found. It was small and the water was freezing,” Aughinbaugh said.

“I do remember thinking about how much time I have before my air supply was gone or if I would go into hypothermic shock, and almost immediately I heard men’s voices outside the vehicle,” Aughinbaugh said.

“We were just doing the right thing,” Rohlfs said. “Adrenaline kicked in. I didn’t even notice the water temperature. My heart rate didn’t come down for about three hours.”

“I was just amazed she was OK, and relieved. I couldn’t believe the door opened up, and she wasn’t smashed. It was a blessing that it went into the water,” Rohlfs said.

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“It was a quick reaction in my head. Before I jumped into the water, about chest deep, I thought, 'Am I going in for nothing? Had the people already left?’ My inner conscience said you have to check no matter what,” Huso said.

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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