ROSEVILLE, Minn. - Interstate 35W reopened about 1:30 p.m. Friday after nearly eight hours of gridlock.
The northbound lanes were closed following a four vehicle crash about 6 a.m.
Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol said a semi truck heading south on I-35W near Highway 280 lost control, went over the median and struck a Metro Mobility van along with two other vehicles heading north.
"Upon arrival troopers found a semi on fire," said Roeske.
The lone occupant of the van was pinned inside the driver's seat right next to the flames from the semi's engine.
That's when a Grand Rapids man named Caley Emerson pulled up and took action.
"Mr. Emerson recognized that probably the quickest and easiest thing to do, rather than get in the van and figure out how to get her out of there, just hook a tow strap to it and yank it from the semi," said Roeske.
As the fire raged, Emerson freed the van from the burning semi, likely saving the driver's life.
"He absolutely put himself in danger," said Roeske.
The Roseville Fire Chief said it took 15 minutes to get the van driver out.
Both she and the semi driver were taken to the hospital, and both are expected to survive thanks to one brave,quick-thinking commuter.
"He felt he did the same thing anyone would have done in the same situation rather than possibly watch someone burn to death," said Roeske.
After his heroic act, Emerson told troopers he didn't want to be interviewed. He didn't want any special recognition for something he just knew was the right thing to do.
Coincidentally, this isn't the first time this has happened in Roseville.
Just one month ago on I-35W, a man named Robert Renning helped free a total stranger from a vehicle burning on the side of the road.
Renning, like Emerson, helped save a person's life.