The 2005 Buick Rendezvous careened through a Cranberry, Penn., neighborhood Friday afternoon as Ryan Minett, 27, hung off the side, clinging to a luggage rack and screaming for help while his girlfriend repeatedly bounced the SUV off curbs, police told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Call 911, call the police,” Minett shouted to stunned neighbors as the SUV roared past, police told the newspaper.
After a half-mile, Minett lost his grip and fell, his body flying 53 feet until it struck a light post, the publication reported.
Minett, who died Saturday, had reportedly been trying to stop his girlfriend, Jessica Ann Royall, 28, from driving drunk to pick up her children, police say. Royall now faces charges including drunken driving and felony assault, and will be charged with homicide by vehicle, Cranberry Police Chief Kevin Meyer told The Post-Gazette.
But Minett’s death – and a generous decision by his father, Eric Minett – means a new life for his childhood best friend, Andrew Dietz, 27, of New Brighton, Penn.
As he considered whether to take his son off life support Saturday, Eric remembered that Andrew desperately needed a kidney transplant, according to WPXI. Ryan and Andrew grew up together, and Andrew still lives across the street from Eric. Their blood types matched, immediately moving Andrew to the top of the list for one of Ryan’s kidneys.
Andrew’s father, Rob Dietz, told KDKA it was “truly amazing, the most difficult decision of your life, and you’re thinking of your neighbor, you’re thinking of a kid who’s in need.”
Andrew, who suffers from a rare kidney disease, had been waiting for a transplant for 10 months. He’s recovering after receiving one of Ryan’s kidneys Saturday night.
When Rob told Andrew who had donated his new kidney, his son “was pretty devastated,” Rob told WPXI. “When I told him there was silence on the other end of the phone.”
Eric told KDKA that he believes Ryan would have wanted things this way, adding that while his son was far from perfect, “he did his greatest thing in death.” Now Eric will see his son “live on through Drew,” Rob told the station.
“Every time I see him, I’m going to see part of my son, so … ” Eric told the station. “I’m just … I just couldn’t believe how everything worked out.”
Royall told police that she’d had an argument at home with Ryan Minett, then left to pick up her children, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He confronted her in the driveway, then grabbed onto her vehicle and refused to let go, she reportedly told police. Witnesses told police they heard tires squealing and officers found evidence that Royall had bounced off at least three curbs as she drove through the neighborhood with Ryan Minett hanging on.
After Ryan Minett lost his grip – sliding, tumbling and rolling down the street until he hit the light post – Royall drove off, police told the publication. She returned as neighbors tried to render aid, police told the publication, then left again. Officers arrested Royall at her home a short time later, police said.