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Perham man pulls crash victim from submerged car

Keith Leiran got into the water to lift the door open and allow the car's driver to escape. (submitted)

Keith Leiran was driving to work on County Highway 52 near Leaf River on Monday morning when he noticed something that wasn't normally there.

After turning around, the Perham man came upon an overturned car submerged in water. Without hesitating, Leiran took his shoes off and got into the water. With the vehicle to hold onto, he helped heave the door open as the driver, 20-year-old Christian Koenen, scrambled out.

"You'd be surprised how heavy a door is when you're working against gravity," Leiran said.

Leiran, an agent at American Family Insurance in Perham, says he would do the same thing again. The only thing he was worried about at the time was sinking into the murky creek.

Koenen was traveling eastbound on County Highway 52 June 17 when his vehicle hit an approach, went airborne, landed, rolled and came to rest on the driver's side, according to a news release from the Otter Tail County Sheriff.

Koenen initially told first responders he was distracted, but later said he might have fallen asleep, according to the release. Koenen was transported to Perham Health with nonlife-threatening injuries.