Returning Spring Breakers rescue father and daughter from Indiana car wreck

Two college sophomores – still wearing shorts and t-shirts from their Spring Break in Florida – rescued a journalist and his 12-year-old daughter after their car spun off the Indiana Toll Road in a heavy ice and snow storm this month.

Mike Oblich and Jack Zagrocki, both Pennsylvania natives, had just flown back from Fort Lauderdale on 10 March and were making their way back to the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana around 11pm when the dramatic scene unfolded on a remote stretch of I-90.

“On the road was ourselves and then two cars ahead of us was our other group of friends – and this car just so happened to be in the middle,” Mr Oblich, who is fortunately a biochemistry major with a minor in compassionate care, tells The Independent.

The highway, he said, “hadn’t been plowed at all; that made the roads difficult to drive on, and the conditions weren’t great to see – but we saw these guys fly off the road, and it was kind of a surreal moment.”

The car, driven by crime reporter Andy Kravetz, of Peoria, Illinois, crashed down a steep embankment in the dark and freezing temperatures. Without a thought, Mr Oblich, who hopes to go to med school, and Mr Zagrocki, who lifeguards and has first aid training, pulled over and rushed down the snow-laden scene to the vehicle, unsure of what they would find.

“It was probably like ten, 15 feet down,” says Mr Zagrocki. “It was pretty far down…they hit small trees and branches on the way down. As we got there, the windows were all smashed in, the hood of the car, the side panels, were all smashed. It looked pretty beat up.”

“We didn’t really know what to expect at all,” Mr Oblich tells The Independent. “We saw this car, and it was just kind of running on adrenaline – we’ve just got to get down there and see what we’re going to see.

“It was kind of scary at first, because as soon as I looked into the car, I saw Andy and his daughter; they were both kind of sitting there but, like Jack said, the windshield was blown out, there were pieces of plastic or metal or something from the car jutting through the front windshield.

“He was kind of sitting there, clearly in shock; there was a piece of whatever this was pretty close to him and my first thought was, ‘Oh no, did this hit him’” and he didn’t notice? “Just because of the nature of the shock that he was in.”

As the punishing elements swirled around them, the students called authorities and worked to get the father and daughter out of the car. It took them about 20 minutes to extricate Mr Kravetz, who coaches his daughter’s hockey team and was driving to a youth tournament actually taking place on the Notre Dame campus.

Mr Kravetz, a crime reporter for more than 30 years, told Notre Dame’s news service that his “faith in humankind has been restored by what these guys did for me and my family.”

The sophomores loaded everything from their wrecked car into their own vehicle and drove a shaken Mr Kravetz and his daughter to South Bend.

“They didn’t have to stop, let alone take us to their car to stay safe and warm,” Mr Kravetz said. “And they insisted on driving us to South Bend. I don’t know what we would have done if they didn’t stop.”

The story only came to light after Mr Kravetz contacted the university, the students – totally taken aback by the attention – tell The Independent.

“They chose to do the right thing in a split second when it mattered and that’s what makes them so freaking awesome,” the reporter told Notre Dame. “How many of us can say that we did the next right thing when it was our turn? They did the right thing by stopping, helping, waiting and driving us. I’m forever in their debt.

“These two young men were literally angels… they were clearly sent from heaven.”

The sophomores say they hope their quick thinking encourages other Good Samaritans and highlights how often acts of kindness and heroism truly happen.

“It was just kind of the right thing to do in the situation, and the hope is that anybody would have done it,” Mr Oblich says.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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