By Edie Schmierbach
---- — LAKE CRYSTAL — The good Samaritan who helped a woman escape from a burning vehicle May 7 has come forward to tell why he happened to be traveling on Highway 60 on that stormy evening last week.
"I just bought a house. My girlfriend, her mother and me, we were bringing a load of my stuff to Amboy," said Michael Smith, 18, of Le Sueur.
The trio was east of Lake Crystal when Smith noticed something on fire along side an opposite traffic lane. Then he saw Chris Burban, a Lake Crystal policeman, struggling to extricate 58-year-old Anna Marie Smith of Jackson from a 2004 Trailblazer.
The two Smiths are not relatives.
"It was raining really bad. I ran across and asked if they needed any help," Michael Smith said.
Lightning had fried the vehicle's electrical system and the door locks were jammed shut. Smith and Burban pulled Anna Marie Smith through the SUV's front-passenger window — its glass had been shattered with a special punch tool the officer carried.
Together, the men helped Anna Marie Smith walk to Burban’s squad car. At that point, the Trailblazer was engulfed.
Michael Smith went back to his vehicle and drove away.
Afterward, the police officer realized he hadn't asked for the young man's name.
Monday night, media aired a video of the rescue and law enforcement's request for the stranger to identify himself. Smith's girlfriend, Kelly Braun, called The Free Press to say she knew the good Samaritan and Michael Smith reached Burban at the Lake Crystal Police Department.
"The officer thanked me about 10 times."
Smith is a graduate of Le Sueur-Henderson High School. While he was a high school student, he was able to take some courses in law enforcement at Minnesota State University. He has one year of classes left.
"Right now, that's on pause," he said.
When he's not at his farm-laborer job near Le Sueur, he likes to spend time with Braun at rodeos and riding horseback.
The young man who helped save a woman in distress does not own a white steed and he does not have a giant ego.
"I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I just wanted to get home," he said.
Anna Marie Smith looks at the experience in a different light.
"I would like to thank him again for saving my life."