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Midland high senior saves man from burning car

A Midland High School senior helped save a life last month.

Wilson Shinske and his father said they woke up early on February 18th to drive to Hartland, where Wilson would be participating in his last wrestling competition before graduation.

As they were driving southbound on I-75, a burning truck caught their attention. Shinske’s father, a retired fireman, pulled to the side of the road.

They knew they had to act quickly once they saw a man slumped over in the driver's seat, with his foot on the accelerator.

“The tires blew out, so it was just the rims sparking on the concrete, which caught the back of the truck on fire," Shinske said.

While his father took the keys out of the ignition, Shinske unlatched the man's seatbelt.

He had trained for an emergency like this: The high school senior has been working at the Midland Co-op, preparing for a future career in the medical field.

He said once they got the man out of the car, they began assessing the situation.

"He has no pulse, he's not breathing. So we recognize that CPR is needed," Shinske said.

Before the sun had come up, he and his father were taking turns performing CPR on the unresponsive man in the headlights of their car. They were soon joined by an off-duty paramedic.

By the time the ambulance arrived, Shinske said the man had gained a pulse and was breathing on his own.

Shinske had performed CPR on an unresponsive patient once before in a hospital setting, but he said this situation was different.

"When you're on the side of the road at six in the morning, you're kind of working with the bare minimum," he said. "It was trying to adapt and overcome."

Somehow, they still managed to make it to the wrestling tournament.

"Going to this stage of wrestling - not everyone gets to the regional finals, it's top 32 in the state," Shinske said. "I've never been more grateful for the opportunity to wake up on a Saturday and go to a wrestling tournament."

The life-or-death emergency situation helped to prepare Shinske for his future in health care, but also gave him a new outlook on life.

“I lost both of my matches," he said. "But clearly I was sent to that tournament with a purpose, and that purpose was more than to wrestle.”

Jill Harrington is a senior at CMU majoring in journalism and minoring in theatre and interpretation. Jill grew up in Novi, Michigan and started reporting for WCMU in summer 2022.