Presented with the Olmsted County “Citizen Life Saving Award” by Sheriff David Mueller was Fillmore Central junior Lane Armstrong. He received the award because of his heroic actions after a car crash on Sept. 27, 2012.  SUBMITTED PHOTO
Presented with the Olmsted County “Citizen Life Saving Award” by Sheriff David Mueller was Fillmore Central junior Lane Armstrong. He received the award because of his heroic actions after a car crash on Sept. 27, 2012. SUBMITTED PHOTO
"Anyone else would do it if they were in the same situation," shared Lane Armstrong in an ordinary manner.

The situation Fillmore Central junior Lane and his friends, Quentin Case and Kiel Larson, found themselves in on the evening of Sept. 27, 2012, was anything but ordinary. What happened that evening would teach all three a valuable lesson, but also prove the strength of their character and Lane's willingness to risk his life to help out his friends.

According to Lane, the three friends were traveling back home from watching a volleyball game held in Plainview. It was dark outside and around 10:40 p.m. when they found themselves halfway between Dover and Chatfield. It was at that brief moment when Quentin decided to look over and see what Lane was texting into his phone. Unfortunately, that was all it took for the evening to go in the wrong direction.

After drifting too far to the right side of the lane, Quentin overcorrected to get back on the road and sent the car across the other lane and into the ditch. There, the car hit a pine tree which forced the car into a roll. The 2004 Mazda then hit another pine tree, which got ripped out of the ground. The car rolled another four to five times and ended up sliding on its top down the road. Then the fire started.

"Everything was like in slow motion," recalled Lane. As the car came to a stop, he was already getting unbuckled and looking for a way out as the flames began to lick behind Kiel in the back seat.

Lane said he doesn't quite remember exactly how he managed to get out, but he was able to pull Kiel out of the back door. Kiel had suffered a concussion and wasn't fully aware.

Quentin had suffered multiple head injuries and a broken collarbone, but also managed to open up the driver's side door and roll out of the car. The group managed to get away from the car before the fire consumed the vehicle and multiple explosions occurred.

Lane, who had experienced whiplash and a bruised face, wound a sweatshirt around Quentin's head while another person, who had stopped after seeing the accident, called for help.

The first police officer on the scene asked Lane if anyone else was in the car. Lane told him there wasn't and that he had pulled Kiel out and helped both get to safety. Fifteen minutes after the crash, the EMTs arrived, put Kiel and Lane in one ambulance and Quentin in another.

Lane called his mother and told her what had happened. "She couldn't believe it," he shared. Word traveled fast and soon after the boys arrived at the emergency room in Rochester, family members and friends began showing up as well.

Lane was cleared soon after arriving. "I wanted them to hurry up so I could see how they were doing," he said about Kiel and Quentin.

After staying at the hospital early into the next day, Lane went back and crashed at his friend's house. After obtaining an excuse from school the next day, he went back to Rochester to be with his friends. Kiel was released that day while Quentin stayed for a while longer.

Since the accident, Lane said he hasn't focused on the whole experience very often. "I'm just glad that all my friends got out of the car," he said.

Lane added that he realized that if he would have gotten hurt worse, none of them may have gotten out of the car in time. His first instinct after the car came to rest was to help his friends out, no matter the risk of doing so.

It was this courage that stuck out to Sheriff Rich Carmack, who was told the story of Lane's bravery by Lane himself. Carmack nominated Lane for the "Citizen Life Saving Award".

Lane was notified of his receiving the award early in April. His parents, Lance and Lisa, were happy for Lane that he was being recognized for his courage even though Lane said he isn't one for the spotlight.

"I was more excited to get it over with," he said smiling.

In a small awards ceremony at the Olmsted County Government Center for policeman and only a few other citizens, Lane formally accepted the Olmsted County "Citizen Life Saving Award" from Sheriff David Mueller.

What was more important to Lane was not how he responded to the accident, but how his friends and family did.

"I was really happy that everyone came out," he shared. "They are really supportive." Once word got around that he and his friends had lost several items through the crash, Lane said his friends started replacing his losses.

The experience hasn't passed without leaving a lesson. "I think people need to be more careful about not becoming distracted on the road," he shared, adding, "I don't want it to happen again."

All three students learned a lesson the hard way, but through doing so, were also able to realize how strongly connected their family and friends were that surrounded them.

Through a horrible accident, Lane proved that compassion for others in danger wins the day. When talking about dealing with the car burning he shared, "The fire wasn't as concerning as much as the lives of the others in the car."

Lane will be a senior next year at Fillmore Central. He is involved with playing saxophone in the band and has enjoyed riding motocross bikes since sixth grade.

According to him, the accident has not slowed him down one bit. "I love it," he said. "I just drive more carefully at night."