By on February 25, 2018

Ralph Gilles

Last weekend, a drunk driver in a Ford Edge crossed into oncoming traffic in Addison Township, Michigan, and collided with a 2013 Ford Fiesta in the early hours of Sunday morning. At the same time Ralph Gilles, Fiat Chrysler’s Global Head of Design, was returning from an evening out with his wife and happened across the scene as the engine compartment of the Edge was beginning to catch fire.

With the occupants of the Fiesta trapped inside, Gilles decided to use his Jeep Wrangler push a burning SUV away from a wrecked hatchback — hoping to save them from a fiery death by keeping the flames from spreading to their vehicle. He explained that he had arrived just moments after the crash and had noticed the Edge driver had already exited the vehicle. Unfortunately, one of the two people in the Fiesta later passed away due to injuries sustained during the accident. But he may have saved the other by pushing the flaming SUV to the side of the road.

According to Deputy Jerry Yaldoo of the Addison Township sheriff’s Crash Reconstruction Unit, the Fiesta had actually been pushed away from the Edge during the initial head-on collision but was struck moments afterward by a 1997 Buick LeSabre. Gilles said he witnessed the second accident and how the hit with the Buick repositioned the car up against the Edge.

“We were the first [people] on the scene,” Gilles told the Oxford Leader. “It looked like it just happened based on the steam and the fact that the gentleman [driving the Edge] was clearly just getting out of his car.”

Initially, he and the drunk driver attempted to free the people trapped in the Fiesta as his wife contacted 911. Unable to do so, Gilles put a new plan into action as he noticed “tall flames coming from the SUV’s engine compartment.”

In the aftermath, he attributed the majority of his success to the vehicle he was in and not his own fast thinking to push the Edge out of the way. “I still have no idea where that [idea] came from,” Gilles told the reporter. “The only thing I can remember thinking [is] I’ve got a Jeep, it’s got a bumper on it, I think I can do this. All I could think about were the two people still inside the other car.”

“I figured the fire department would take a while to get there … at that time of day. I had to do something fast,” he continued. “I give the Jeep a lot of credit because had I been in my [Dodge] Challenger, I wouldn’t have had the traction to do it. Luckily, we had the Jeep that night. I put it in four-wheel drive and it worked perfectly.”

Addison Fire Chief Jerry Morawski called Gilles’ actions heroic. “I think the guy did a great job … it could have been worse [without him].”

However the FCA employee doesn’t think so. “Looking at the situation, there was no other option,” he said. “It’s important to stop (whenever there’s an accident). It’s kind of what you’re supposed to do. Every time I see something like that, I always at least inquire if they need help.”

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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36 Comments on “FCA Design Head Uses Jeep Wrangler to Intervene in Fiery Accident ...”


  • avatar
    gasser

    Nice to see a story about someone with the heart to stop, and the brains to help.

  • avatar
    ernest

    Props to him… and the Jeep.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I watched a guy in a new Prius go from the HOV lane, across three lanes of traffic and onto the exit ramp. At first I thought the guy was being a jerk and didn’t want to miss his exit. However, he continued across the exit lane and smashed into a concrete wall, about 50 degree angle at 55 mph – his brake lights never came on. I passed him and saw him slumped over the wheel. I stopped and tried to wake him by banging on the glass. After5 minutes he began to awaken – first adjusting the A/C, then the radio. I guess he did not notice the side airbags deployed. Even though the car engine was off, it was still in gear and would occasionally try to nudge forward. I decided to smash the window and put his car into park. When I broke the glass, he began to awaken more and yanked the wheel to the left. Now the car was no longer being stopped by the concrete wall and it began to roll forward – right into the cop who got out of her car and walked up the accident. I squeezed into the window and shut the car off and popped out. Expecting a thank you from Nassau County’s Finest, she began to yell at me for interfering with an accident scene. I pointed at the guy and told her he started 4 lanes away and she should be grateful somebody actually gave a damn enough to care. I then walked away with her mouth still flapping, got in my car and left.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Wins all around.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Well done Gilles.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Kudos to Mr. Gilles. Funny, why is he not tooling around in one of those great Fiat sourced Jeeps he helped style?

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I’ve always liked Gilles and appreciated his work. Nice to hear something positive.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Kudos to Ralph Gilles.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Good job, quick thinking. I remember the people who helped me after a drunk in a pickup left me and my passenger for dead back in 2001. There were three college students killed by a drunk driver here this weekend, he fled the scene and was apprehended. Last year, an off duty fireman and an employee of the D.A.’s office were driving drunk and killed a teenager who was walking home from work, they fled but were caught. Instead of helping the victim, the fireman followed his buddy home in an attempt to avoid legal trouble. Sickening. Two strippers outside on a cigarette break saw what happened and responded by calling 911. Citizens are often the first responders to this totally avoidable crime.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Totally avoidable. Why do people still insist on it with all the possible consequences when it’s so easy to use other options like Uber or Lyft.

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        Ah, one of the base assumptions of young imbeciles – that everyone has a smartphone, lives in a city, and the most natural thing in the world is to summon Uber or Lyft.

        Sorry, Charlie, not everyone lives in the millenial world. Here in the real world one calls a regular taxicab company or a friend to get home if not in condition to drive. (Hell, I know people who have never even heard of Uber or Lyft.)

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          One, this story is in suburban Detroit and not rural Wyoming. Two, if there are conventional cabs, there’s Uber or Lyft. You’re not in that rural of an area. Three, are you really making an excuse for drunk driving? And you’re calling me the imbecile. 2 many cars but not enough brains unfortunately.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Kudos to Mr. Gilles ….and the two strippers !

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      Rules don’t apply to them.

      “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep”…Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel

    • 0 avatar
      Bigazfordtruck

      If this was the OCC student accident I was one of the first responders on scene and all i can say is that guy is about to get what is coming to him.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Yes, that’s the drunk driving case I’m referring to. I live in Syracuse and we’ve seen too much of this. I’ve personally been seriously injured by a drunk and also t-boned by a texter, with no injury. I think society is treating a criminal justice issue as a public health issue. When you label alcoholism as a disease you take away a percentage of responsibility from the perpetrator. That kid that was killed on Salina St. was one of the saddest DWI cases I can remember.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Weird. Two POS Fords collide and one bursts into flames.

    And it’s a Jeep to the rescue. Life is good

    “Addison Fire Chief Jerry Morawski called Gilles’ actions heroic. “I think the guy did a great job … it could have been worse [without him].”

    However the FCA employee doesn’t think so. ”

    The FCA employee. The disdain for anything Chrysler on this site is amazing. He has a name. You know it as you wrote it in the sentence above. Show an OUNCE of respect.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      At least change employee to executive.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        That would have worked too. But it goes against the site bias and we cannot have that…

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          His name was already used seven times in the article and he’s probably my favorite person currently EMPLOYED by FCA right now. You also can’t seriously think that by reporting that two Fords hit each other, it shows some kind of bias. A Buick was also involved.

          Take your meds.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            The bias is against anything Chrysler.

            “The FCA employee” just shows an amazing amount of disrespect. If he is your favorite person employed by Chrysler right now, you sure have a funny way of showing it.

        • 0 avatar

          He was called “Design Head” in the headline, and as has been pointed out his actual name was already mentioned seven times in the article. For stylistic reasons I would have referred to him as “the FCA employee” or some similar phrase just to avoid using his name again. It’s not good writing style to keep using the same words over and over again.

          • 0 avatar
            oldowl

            On English usage, check out the fallacy of elegant variation in Fowler.

          • 0 avatar

            Fowler is concerned with excessive ornamentation and word substitutes that obfuscate. He also says that variation is sometimes necessary. I believe that “The FCA employee” gets a pass in regard to both ornamentation and obfuscation.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    Glad he stepped up.
    My question is why he takes the wrangler rather than the Challenger for a night on the town. Was the wife’s dress so short that the Jeep allowed her to keep her dignity while entering and exiting?

  • avatar
    Caboose

    I kinda would love to see Gilles made FCA Chairman/CEO when The Sweater retires. Not because of this episode; but that doesn’t hurt.

  • avatar

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. My impression has always been the Ralph Gilles is a stand up guy. He’s always been gracious to me with his time at various press events and has been as open about stuff as his position allows.

    C’mon, the guy has a dog named ‘Cuda, what’s not to like?

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