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Airman heroically saves truck driver, prevents disaster on Autobahn

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Wilkinson, 726th Air Mobility Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, poses for a photo on the flightline at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 24, 2020. Wilkinson is credited with saving the life of an impaired trucker who had gone off the road on the German Autobahn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Branden Rae)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Wilkinson, 726th Air Mobility Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, poses for a photo on the flightline at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 24, 2020. Wilkinson is credited with saving the life of an impaired trucker who had gone off the road on the German Autobahn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Branden Rae)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --

Emergencies can occur at a moment’s notice. During stressful situations the human body reacts in a ”fight or flight” manner.

Would you have the courage to pull over on a busy highway, race to the aid of an impaired cargo truck driver, jump into the vehicle and slow the truck down before certain disaster? For U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Wilkinson, 726th Air Mobility Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, he didn’t have to think twice.

On June 12, Wilkinson witnessed an 18-wheeler collide with a guard rail on the side of the German Autobahn. After the collision, the truck began to rapidly decelerate.

“I was frustrated because I thought he was cutting me off and almost pinned me into the rail,” said Wilkinson. “After the driver struck the rail, my feelings turned from frustration to thinking something is wrong with the driver.”

Wilkinson pulled his vehicle onto the shoulder and immediately ran after the slow-moving 18-wheeler. When he arrived, he noticed that the driver was unresponsive.

“It was second nature,” said Wilkinson. “I just had to wait for the truck to slow down so I could run beside it.”

In an incredible act of bravery, Wilkinson managed to climb into the moving vehicle and apply the brakes, guiding the truck safely out of the path of disaster.

Wilkinson’s supervisor stated how proud he was that his troop could act so selflessly in a time of emergency.

“I was a bit shocked because it sounded like something you might see Tom Cruise pull off in Mission Impossible,” said Tech. Sgt. Adam King, 726th AMS support section chief. “I was proud to hear he was able to save the driver and potentially more lives.”

Upon stopping the truck, Wilkinson checked the wellbeing of the driver and called for first responders. He also flagged down another bystander to aid at the scene.

When police arrived to the scene, they determined the actions taken by Wilkinson and the other bystander prevented a highly probable catastrophic accident, as traffic on that stretch of the A-60 travels at unrestricted and unpredictable rates of speed.

The driver is reported to be in good condition.

After hearing the news, Wilkinson’s superiors shared their praise and weren’t surprised by his selfless act.

“Since his arrival to the unit, Staff Sgt. Wilkinson has continuously demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond to ensure the mission gets taken care of,” said Senior Master Sgt. Simon Fancher, 726th AMS acting superintendent. “It is no surprise that his drive and determination to help in any situation is also something he carries with him outside of his assigned duties.  His internal temperament is one of service, sacrifice, and integrity and when these qualities were put to the test, Mike stepped up and helped a fellow citizen to prevent further danger to the public. His actions are a true testament to his character and showcases his eagerness to toe the line and help preserve what matters most to those around him."