Alex Wieland is pictured still wearing casts alongside his father while shaking the hand of one of the officers that saved his life. (Photo by Virginia Ransbottom)From left, are Allegan County Sheriff deputies Rob Flokstra, Ross Mysliwiec and Ryan Rewa; Gun Lake Tribal police officer Josh Blanton and Wayland police officer Jonathon Schaefer.  (Photo by Virginia Ransbottom)

Lifesaving officers, citizens honored in Wayland Township

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

An awards ceremony honored five local law enforcement officers and three citizens for saving the life of an accident victim trapped inside a burning vehicle on Aug. 13, on US-131, north of the Shelbyville exit in Allegan County.

The accident resulted in tragedy for the wrong way driver but could have been more tragic if police officers and citizens had not risked their own lives to rescue Alex Wieland from his burning vehicle said Allegan County Sheriff Frank Baker on Monday, Oct. 2, at Wayland Township Hall.

Wieland had been hit head-on by 29-year-old Sean Michael Barone of the Wayland area who later died.

Unconscious, Wieland could not escape from his burning vehicle, which had rolled over. Commuters on the highway stopped to help and first responders from multiple agencies arrived immediately, joining the effort to roll the car over, extinguish the 10-foot flames, stop semi-truck drivers for fire extinguishers when theirs ran out; and put themselves in danger to pull Wieland from the wreckage.

He survived with several broken bones, concussion-like symptoms and a long recovery ahead of him.

Wieland’s father Jeff, who owns Wieland Auto Repair in Plainwell, had some words for those who rescued his son.

“They did not know if he was dead or alive but worked unselfishly to fight for his life and put the fire at bay,” he said. “They did just that and saved his life, keeping my son and family intact and sparing us unspeakable grief.

“Our thoughts go out to the other driver and the loss his family suffered.”

Receiving lifesaving awards in front of a full house were Allegan County Sheriff deputies Rob Flokstra, Ross Mysliwiec and Ryan Rewa. Receiving lifesaving awards from their own departments, excellence in law enforcement awards were given by Sheriff Baker to Gun Lake Tribal police officer Josh Blanton and Wayland police officer Jonathon Schaefer. Citizen lifesaving awards were given to Tylor Bailey, Jeremy Knudsen and David Donica, who all assisted at the scene.

The ceremony showed a great example of the cooperation of citizens and between law enforcement agencies being done in Allegan County, said Baker.

To help with Alex’s mounting expenses, a GoFundMe page has been set up at www.gofundme.com/AlexWieland.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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