A former Sandusky man died this week in Florida when he was struck by a vehicle while helping others involved in a traffic crash.
Chad Ries, 32, who lived in Ruskin, Fla., was just four miles from home Saturday night when he pulled over on U.S. 41 to help a pair of drivers in need.
But when Ries stepped out of his vehicle, he was struck by a passing car and died at the scene, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol.
Ries was on his way home from his sister's cheerleading competition when the crash occurred, with wife, Christen Ries, and their two kids, Cierra and Cayden watching in horror from their car.
But Ries died as he lived — helping others.
Ries' mother, Teresa Wittmer, said he always went out of his way to help those in need. She recalled one instance during which her son noticed several homeless people outside a fast food restaurant.
“He went in and ordered I don't know how many hamburgers, fries and Cokes. That's just how he was,” Wittmer said.
When Ries moved to Florida, he hosted July Fourth block parties and rented a bouncy house for the children to play in.
When he was deployed to Iraq as a U.S. Army soldier, Ries even volunteered to go out in a war zone when his fellow soldiers were hesitant, Wittmer said.
Ries attended Sandusky High School and EHOVE Career Center before enlisting, but even in Florida, Ohio was close to Ries' heart.
“He has a red and gray room in his house in Florida and his office was all Ohio State,” Wittmer said. “He's Mr. Buckeye.”
A fund has been set up for Ries' children and the family has requested memorial donations be made in lieu of flowers to SunTrust Bank, account in the name of Christen C. Ries, 502 US Hwy 41 North, Ruskin, FL 33570.
Anyone interested in donating to a fund close to Ries' heart are encouraged to reach out to The Wounded Warrior Project.