Good Samaritan, off-duty trooper save 10 people from fiery crash

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BATH, S.D. (KSFY) -- Justin Dirksen and Cortney Paul believe they were doing what anyone else would've done at the scene of a fiery car crash on Highway 12 in South Dakota.

"I was just lucky to be in the right spot at the right time," said Dirksen, originally from Bismarck, North Dakota, who was visiting the family farm over the weekend.

"Definitely just doing my job. I just did what I was trained to do and I didn't think twice," says Cortney Paul, a highway patrol trooper who was with her sister on her way back to Aberdeen from Sioux Falls.

The teamwork between Dirksen and Paul saved 10 lives. Dirksen would pull people out of the vehicles and pass them onto Paul, who would lay them down in the ditch. It was basically an assembly line to get those inside the vehicles to safety. Trooper Paul was able to talk to the teenagers inside the red Jeep that was hit from behind.

"I made sure to get their names and talk to them. They were so brave for what just happened to them. They were actually really responsive and listened to everything the rescuers said," explained Paul.

Dirksen continued to work on the passengers stuck in the second vehicle. The two had to move everyone away from the Jeep because it was on fire.

"As we were pulling people out, both front tires had already exploded so we didn't want any more glass and metal to be flying at any of the injured," says Dirksen.

Both sides believe it could've had a worse outcome if no one was around to help.

"Justin Dirksen was a big help to me that night. If it hadn't been for him, I don't know if we would've gotten all of the girls out in time. It went really quickly," said Paul.

Nine people suffered minor injuries in the crash. The tenth was airlifted to a hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

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