Good Samaritan honored for swift actions at summer crash

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Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Zach Miller, left, shakes hands with Dr. Tyler Thorson. The local doctor was presented an award for his Good Samaritan efforts during a fatal crash on Kerr Dam Road in August. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

Two men have been recognized for their efforts during an August crash on a rural roadway that left one person dead and another with extensive injuries.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, Dr. Tyler Thorson was presented a Meritorious Service Award for his quick-thinking, while Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Zach Miller has been recognized for his work on a crash on Kerr Dam Road on Aug. 10.

Miller was the first emergency responder on scene while Thorson, who was at home with his wife, heard the crash.

“We were eating dinner and heard the thundering boom, and I saw my neighbor running through the yard,” Thorson recalled.

THORSON AND his wife, Dr. Laura Hoganson, had only been living at their Lakeview Drive home for about a week when the incident happened.

Thorson looked outside and saw one of two cars that collided smoking, and decided to go to the scene.

Patrolling the area nearby was Miller, who was the first emergency responder to arrive.

He noticed a man, Patrick Pierre III, 38, lying on the roadway near the two-car crash on Kerr Dam Road.

“I pulled up and I was the first cop there. Thankfully, I remembered to grab my first aide bag, and I saw the damage,” Miller recalled.

Together, Thorson and Miller worked on Pierre, administering CPR.

MILLER SAID that when he saw Thorson beginning to assess the situation, he was thankful someone else was there.

“I didn’t know he was a doctor until last week,” Miller added.

Pierre was later pronounced dead at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson.

Thorson a 31-year-old physician with his own practice, said he was able to assess the situation, applying some of his emergency training.

He also works at the emergency room at St. Luke’s in Ronan.

Wearing sandals and a T-shirt on the day of the crash, Thorson said that neighbors and passers-by helped at the scene.

He assessed who he thought was most critical, which was Pierre, and stayed with him.

At first, Thorson recalled trying to make sense of what was happening, but then his years of medical training “kicked in.”

Thorson, who grew up in Minnesota, completed his residency in Montana.

Luckily, Thorson said he hasn’t had to use his medical knowledge other than at work.

Miller, who has been a trooper for five years, said that the August crash marked the third in his career where he was the first responder to the scene of a fatal head-on.

He said he’s been trained in CPR and other basic medical practices to aide until an ambulance can arrive.

ACCORDING TO Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Chan Barry in August, Pierre was driving a Ford Mustang southbound when he drifted into the northbound lane as he approached the first curve of Kerr Dam Road.

Pierre corrected back into the southbound lane, only to again drift into the northbound lane, striking a Chrysler Town and Country van head-on.

A female passenger in the Mustang, of the Pablo-Ronan area, was flown to Kalispell Medical Regional Center with serious injuries.

The female driver of the van was flown to Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula with life-threatening injuries, Barry confirmed. The female driver was eventually taken to Washington for treatment, where she is currently still healing, according to a family friend.

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