Longtime Fairplay resident Bill Pierce insists first and foremost that he did nothing out of the ordinary, and that others would have done the same thing under the circumstances.
But despite Pierce’s well-intentioned attempt at humility, there is considerable evidence to the contrary.
The set of circumstances Pierce is referring to unfolded rapidly before he and his wife Angela on Red Hill Pass over Memorial Day weekend. With holiday-heavy north and southbound traffic advancing over a curvy, two-lane portion of U.S. Highway 285, the swift flow of movement was abruptly interrupted in both directions.
A violent collision had occurred between cars traveling in opposite directions, leaving an assortment of wayward automotive parts strewn about the road. Some vehicles were stopped, while others frantically attempted to manipulate around the mess and continue to their destinations.
Some people were standing along the side of the road, and one badly disfigured car sat idle at the scene. A handful of people also seemed to be looking down a steep incline, but it was not immediately apparent to Pierce exactly what they were viewing when he arrived at the scene.
“The people in the car at the scene were beat up pretty bad, but didn’t seem to be critical,” Pierce recalled. “But there was another car down the cliff that looked like it had rolled several times. A girl had climbed out of the car and she was trying to get back up to the road. She was bleeding and confused, still in shock, and her car was probably a couple hundred feet down the incline.”
Without further assessment, Pierce began the long trek down the incline and eventually reached the badly shaken girl. Verbal communication between the two was initially limited, but she eventually introduced herself as “Sarah.”
For the most part, Sarah was able to walk under her own power as Pierce carefully assisted her up the steep, rocky terrain.
“I could not believe that anyone could have possibly walked away from that accident,” Pierce admitted. “After we got back up to the highway, though, Sarah started saying that she couldn’t find Sam. I asked her who Sam was, scared to death it might be a child, or another passenger in her car. That’s when Sarah explained that Sam was her dog … a lab.”
By that time, paramedics had arrived on the scene and were beginning to treat the injured parties, including Sarah.
“I have labs myself, so I went back down looking for Sam,” Pierce said. “I spotted him over on Safari Ranch, so I started calling his name. He stayed where he was and allowed me to collar him using my belt, and we started back up to the highway. Sam had to be carried toward the top. He was old … so it was just two old fat men making their way up the hill at that point.”
On his journey to retrieve Sam, Pierce also searched through the wreckage of Sarah’s SUV to find and return her purse and wallet. Pierce said Sarah was happy to have her purse back, but was “ … very, very grateful to see Sam.”
Pierce said his son asked him after the incident whether he was at all concerned, from a liability standpoint, about rendering assistance to an injured person.
“I told him I didn’t do anything I wouldn’t expect him, or any of his friends to do,” Pierce said. “I did nothing out of the ordinary. We have a lot of people in this community who would have done the same thing under the circumstances. I guess the Lord put me there at that time for a reason.”
Curious onlookers still lingered around the crash site as Bill and Angela Pierce quietly departed the scene and headed home to Fairplay.
When asked why he thought those onlookers didn’t offer their assistance, as he had, Pierce paused.
“Well, I think they were tourists, and the men were mostly wearing flip-flops,” Pierce said with a chuckle.
Pierce will probably always maintain that his actions on Memorial Day weekend of 2020 were nothing out of the ordinary.
Sarah and Sam, however, would likely beg to differ.