Two years ago, in August 1995, the assistants to the president of the Germany Leipzig Mission had just entered the autobahn on their way to a neighboring city when a car in the next lane passed them, then suddenly swerved to avoid colliding with another car.
The car veered into the median strip where it spun several times, then slid back across traffic and finally landed upside down in a field near the side of the road.The missionaries stopped, ran to the car, pulled the driver through a back window and dragged him to safety before the car was engulfed in flames.
For their heroism two years ago, Elders Kurt Forsberg and Scott Peppler were awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit by Juergen Chrobog, ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany. The presentation was made Aug. 1 during a luncheon hosted by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City.
The ambassador was accompanied by his wife, Dr. Magda Gohar-Chrobog.
"A lot has been said and written recently on both sides of the Atlantic," said Ambassador Chrobog, "about the decline in commonly held social values and the diminishing readiness to get involved when it comes to preserving those values.
"Almost exactly two years ago," continued the ambassador, "two young men . . . showed the courage to step forward to help someone in dire need.
"On that day, a businessman from Dresden lost control of his car because of a negligent maneuver by another driver. Although there was plenty of traffic on the highway, only one car stopped. [Elders Forsberg and Peppler] helped the semi-conscious [driver] out of the car wreck just moments before it exploded.
"Your bravery saved a man's life."
Following the luncheon, the ambassador expressed his pleasure for bestowing such an award, and noted that while he often presents awards for various contributions, seldom does he "honor those who have risked their lives."
The ambassador and his wife had stopped in Salt Lake City for the luncheon after completing assignments in San Francisco several days prior.
The morning of the accident in 1995 was a "beautiful, sunny day," remembered Elder Forsberg as the recounted the details of the accident he and his companion witnessed.
He said that they were amazed to find the driver alive. Elder Forsberg was crouched on his knees asking the man about his condition through the broken windows when Elder Peppler noticed flames leaping through the undercarriage area of the engine.
"This brought a new burst of energy," Elder Forsberg said.
The missionaries quickly pulled the man through the window and dragged him to safety.
Elder Forsberg now resides in the Prairie 5th Ward in the West Jordan Utah Prairie Stake. Elder Peppler lives in the Fruit Heights 6th Ward, Fruit Heights Utah Stake.