GARDEN PLAIN, Kan. (KSNW) – Family and friends are calling Mike Stuhlsatz a hero after pulling a young man from a burning car this month.
“No, I’m not a hero. Anybody would have done it,” Mike said.
In the early morning of Jan. 21, Mike was late getting to work to open his shop.
“Seen a fire glowing out there, you know it’s bright orange,” said Mike. “So my curiosity just got to me.”
Mike drove a couple of miles to the glow to find out it was a car on fire just outside Garden Plain.
“Tried to look inside. It was pitch black inside the car. Once I opened up the door, and the smoke all rolled out, I could see a figure sitting in there with his head laid back and not moving,” Mike said.
Mike tried to wake the young man, but he was still not moving. And there was a small explosion from under the car hood.
“And he didn’t respond, so I tapped on his chest again. I wondered how I was going to move this person?” said Mike. “It popped for the last time, and I said we’re going to go. I thought either you’re going to burn up, or I’m going to burn with you.”
Mike has had several shoulder surgeries. but with adrenaline, the shoulders did not bother him as he dragged the young man to safety.
The car fully burned. Mike didn’t know at first who he saved from the car. Turns out, it was his cousin’s son.
“His dad came to the shop and just walked up and hugged me,” Mike said. “And I said, wait, what?”
John Stuhlsatz was alive and not hurt.
“I am so appreciative and lucky to be alive,” said John, who was pulled from the car.
John doesn’t remember hitting the ditch or his car being on fire. He only remembers waking up surrounded by paramedics.
“You know, I think if Mike would have been a couple of minutes later, it would have been either way worse or it would have been too late,” said John.
Mike downplays the role of being a hero. His wife and son do not.
“In that moment, he was a hero for sure,” said Mary Stuhlsatz, Mike’s wife. “Yes, he is a hero. I’m very proud of him. He was able to do what he needed to do, and it worked out fabulously.”
“This doesn’t surprise me about dad,” said Josh, Mike’s son. “And mom goes, well did you hear what your dad did this morning? And I was like, ‘oh, what did he do now?’ Then, she told me the story, and he comes walking in about the middle of the story, and I was just kind of shocked.”
John says he’s studying to be a mechanic or a machinist. He also says his future remains bright thanks to some quick thinking by his cousin.
“There was a lot of coincidences, and right now, if it wouldn’t have been for Mike, and I’m sure God had a part in this, but I would not be here right now,” said John. “Live one day at a time and be thankful for it. You never know how soon or how quick it might get taken from you.”