Man saved from drowning in wreck

The North Dakota Highway Patrol reports that a rollover occurring Friday afternoon outside of Minot very nearly resulted in a man’s drowning.

Velva resident David Sopher, 21, was traveling southeast on U.S. Highway 52 in a Jeep Cherokee sports utility vehicle at around 3 p.m. when he drifted off the road.

Though the reason is not known for sure, from officers’ interview with the driver afterward it is possible he had fallen asleep at the wheel. The rumble strips along the roadside woke him, but it was too late to right the vehicle’s direction and the SUV left the roadway near Valley Vegetables at mile marker 105. In the ensuing rollover the Cherokee settled into a creek upside-down, with Sopher trapped underwater in the crumpled wreckage by his seatbelt.

Ward County Sheriff’s Deputy William Miller had been traveling behind the vehicle when the accident occurred, and so was able to assist the driver. The deputy held the man’s head above water until help arrived, likely saving his life. Responding to the scene, Deputy Ann Millerbernd also entered the water to assist Miller.

After between 15 and 20 minutes additional rescuers were able to free Sopher, who was then conveyed to Trinity Health by medical personnel. Deputies Miller and Millerbernd were also taken in for treatment, as the water had been extremely cold.

“Everything turned out OK,” said Trooper Michael Schott, who had initially explained the incident.

Officers temporarily brought traffic to a halt on U.S. Highway 52 during the rescue, causing some delays.