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Honoring Heroes


Four men who made national news in February for pulling a woman from a fiery car crash have been formally recognized for their life-saving actions.

Miles Bourgeois, Byron Gilcrease, Vince Lejeune and Jeremy Zeringue were weary about accepting the hero label. After the accident, they spoke of being at the right place at the right time and having a normal, human reaction.

Zeringue, of Gonzales, was the first to take note of a Nissan Altima swerving erratically in the early morning of Feb. 19. He called 9-1-1 and trailed the vehicle until it crashed into the back of an Infiniti Q70 in Garyville.

Haley Ilg, 41, of Prarieville, was trapped inside as the vehicle combusted.

Gilcrease was in the kitchen of his nearby home when he heard the crash and rushed to the highway, as Lejeune and Bourgeois jumped out of their vehicles to assist in the rescue.

The fire was twice the size of the car and had overtaken the back seats when the four men joined forces to pull Ilg out of the window just in the nick of time and carry her to the grassy median. She was a safe distance from the blaze when sirens began to blare with the approach of emergency response teams.

Ilg was in a wheelchair at the March 26 St. John the Baptist Parish Council meeting, looking on as her four rescuers were presented plaques of recognition from the Parish Council, the St. John Sheriff’s Office and Marathon Petroleum Company.

The wreck left her with moderate injuries treated by surgery, and she is on the road to recovery.

Ilg’s husband, Walter, expressed his gratitude to the men for their compassion during and after the rescue.

“The next day, I was with her in the hospital, and we started to get personal text messages and calls from these gentlemen asking what they could do for her; when they could send flowers and when they could come visit her,” Walter Ilg said.

“There’s really nothing that can express your gratitude for this heroism. Two of the gentlemen were burned themselves. She didn’t even have a singed hair on her body.”

While presenting the first round of plaques, Parish President Natalie Robottom said there was “no doubt” the wreck could have resulted in a fatality if not for the bravery of the good Samaritans.




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