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July 08, 2013 10:01 PM

Republican Party Chairman Rescues Woman From Burning Vehicle

Most people know Craig Lawrence as the chairman of the South Dakota Republican party.  But there's a young woman in Minnesota who knows Lawrence only as her hero.

Last week, Lawrence was returning from his cabin in northern Minnesota when an oncoming car on the highway lost control.

"She's coming at me and we are going to pass, but she's distracted obviously on perfectly clear day, goes in the ditch and then does what we're not suppose to do," Lawrence said.

The woman over corrects and loses control.

"It's like the Indy 500 and this car rolls about six times right down the center of the highway into the ditch and it's on fire," Lawrence said.

Lawrence stops to help, but can't get the driver's side door open.

"So I run around to the other side and another guy had come along, and we both ripped on the door until it went open," Lawrence said.

The woman is unconscious, so Lawrence grabs her and struggles to get her out of the burning vehicle.

"She's screaming while I do it, even though she doesn't remember anything.  She's screaming and I'm saying, 'I'm sorry, but if I don't pull you out, I know it's going to hurt, but you're going to die,'" Lawrence said.

Once they got her out of the car, they dragged the woman about 60 feet into the ditch to get her away from the burning vehicle.

"Two minutes after we get her out of the car, the flames were in the driver's seat," Lawrence said.

Lawrence doesn't consider himself a hero.  He says his adrenaline kicked in and he did what anyone else would have done in the face of danger. The entire experience has given him a different perspective on people who risk their own lives to save others.

"This 4th of July, I was thankful for all the people.  Excuse me; I'm still emotional about it.  I'm thankful for all the people in South Dakota who have made those kind of decisions over the years," Lawrence said.

The woman was taken to a hospital in Fargo. She suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries. Lawrence has talked to the 19-year-old woman a couple of times over the phone and said she was thankful Lawrence was there.

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