Medina pastor who helped stop runaway tractor on Main Street tells his story
Pastor Rod Klinzing of Medina doesn't want anybody making a big deal over his heroics Tuesday when his efforts may have helped saved the lives of two people trapped inside of a car being pushed sideways by a tractor down Main Street.
He's slightly embarrassed that his wife Janice contacted The Batavian Wednesday afternoon, saying, "I am so terribly proud of my husband who did what seemed right. And it was right.." (Because of my travels, I had no time to interview Rod until this evening).
Klinzing was the first to jump on the tractor and try smashing his way through the window.
"We heard a terrible noise with car horns going off and we had no idea what was going on until the tractor drove right in front of us pushing the car along and we could see inside two people still in the car and they were just panic stricken and absolutely helpless," Klinzing said.
(LISTEN: Full audio interview)
The pastor said he then ran up to the to get the attention of the driver, Neil Phelps, saying, "I thought perhaps he just didn't know."
"I came to realize he wasn't responding," Klinzing said. "He wasn't responding to me and he wasn't responding to anybody else who was yelling and screaming."
When he realized that eventually the trapped car would either be turned over or pushed into a stopped car ahead, Klinzing said he had to act. The tractor wasn't moving that fast, so he decided he could jump aboard.
"Pounding on the window didn't seem to do anything," Klinzing said. "The door was secured from the inside and I couldn't open it, and I just tried to get his attention. He looked at me in kind of a very dazed state. No emotion whatsoever and just kept on driving."
That went on for what seemed like a while, Klinzing said, so he decided to try and make eye contact to get the driver's attention.
"He did and that's when I made a motion pointing at the key, 'turn it off, turn it off,'" Klinzing said. "I was pleased that he actually responded to that. My pounding on the window, he didn't respond to at all. I made that motion. He turned it off. He sat back, and that was basically the end of the story"
Klingzing said another man did jump on the tractor and start pounding on the window, probably Jerry Newell, but Klinzing said he told the man the pounding was ineffective.
"He probably has a pretty sore hand at this point because he smacked it pretty hard," Klinzing said.
Klinzing said at the end two police officers did jump on the vehicle and managed to gain entry from the other side of the tractor cab.
While people worked to extract Gene Laney and his passenger from the car stuck in front of the tractor, Klinzing said he said next to the cab and made sure the driver didn't turn the tractor back on, and then he left the scene.
Batavia Police Chief Randy Baker told WBTA yesterday that the two officers who assisted at the scene were Chris Camp and Matthew Baldwin.