KANDIYOHI, Minn. - Although the crash took place more than a week ago, the memories of what happened are still fresh for Jose Alvarado.
"I think about it every day and wonder if there was something more I could've done," said Jose from Kandiyohi.
On August 17th, Alvarado pulled up to a crash that had occurred seconds earlier two miles east of Willmar on Highway 12. He noticed a pickup truck in the road and a van in the ditch. Inside, 8-year old Julia Hoffman and 5-year old Jason Hoffman trapped in the backseat.
"It was on fire and I heard screaming," he recalls. "I ran towards the van and thought I had to get these kids out."
Alvarado climbed in the backseat through a window and carried both children to safety on the side of the road.
"When I was reaching for the girl I thought I was going to die," he says. "There was lots of smoke, but I told her I wasn't going to leave her."
Unfortunately, Julia died on the way to the hospital. Julia's mother Michelle and her grandmother Marta Stoffers also passed away, but it was likely the efforts of Alvarado that saved the life of Jason.
"I think about him a lot," said Alvarado. "Someday, I'd like to give him something."
A relative of the Hoffman family says, "There are really no words to describe the gratitude that we will forever have in our hearts for the men that rescued Jason. We thank God every day for their courage and compassion. Their bravery was incredible."
Jason will make a full recovery.
"I'm so glad I was there when I was," said Alvarado.
The 21- year old driver of the pick-up truck that hit the minivan is awaiting his next court appearance. Paul Wickenhuaser faces three counts of criminal vehicular homicide and an open bottle violation.
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