Sheriff’s Deputy, Civilians Honored for Saving Man from Burning Car in Cheboygan County

A deputy and two civilians were honored and awarded in Cheboygan County on Tuesday for saving a man’s life.

The three men were on scene when a driver went into a ditch and flipped his car, which then caught on fire while he was still inside.

They pulled that driver out of his car to safety.

It happened on a snowy night in December when John Stemback was driving to his cottage on Burt Lake.

“These cars were slipping and sliding in front of me and I was thinking how am I going to avoid that?” John, explained.

His car ended up on its side in a ditch off I-75 in Cheboygan County.

“It was maybe a minute later that I could smell the smoke and odor,” John added.

Charles Woollard drove into the ditch himself, running to John’s car to see if he could help.

“I’ve seen the fire right off the bat. To me it was just a human instinct, you want to save a life, you don’t want to see nobody die,” Charles, explained.

Behind Charles was Scott Doherty.

“I yelled out I saw a hand and I ran out as fast as I could across the slippery road,” Doherty, added.

Right next to Scott was Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Runstrom.

“Obviously I knew we were limited in time,” Deputy Runstrom, said.

“I used a window punch to punch and break the moon roof out, and myself and Charles grabbed a hold of his arms and pulled him away from the vehicle before it engulfed in flames more,” Deputy Runstrom, added.

Dep. Runstrom, Charles and Scott saved John’s life that night.

The four were reunited for the first time, Tuesday.

“After a situation like that, anybody that’s involved in saving your life, you’re very pleased to see again,” John, said.

“I almost started crying really, just to know he was there, I mean I knew he was alive, I just wanted to make sure,” Charles, added.