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Samaritan GI's last act gives family some peace

Feb. 9, 2013 - 03:25PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 9, 2013 - 03:25PM  |  
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GREEN BAY — The way his family looks at it, Andrew Steiner died from having a good heart.

"Andy was just doing what Andy does," said his father, Douglas Steiner of Howard. "He cares."

Andrew Steiner, 26, died last weekend from injuries he suffered a week earlier while trying to help victims of a minor car crash.

A crash shortly after midnight Jan. 27 left two vehicles in the middle of traffic on a pitch-dark overpass on State 172 and Lime Kiln Road, according to the Brown County Sheriff's Department.

Steiner and his passenger, Matt Miller, were coming back from Manitowoc, where they had been repairing a truck. They were headed to meet Steiner's parents, Douglas and Nicole, for a hamburger at Gilligan's in Howard. They came upon the scene and nearly crashed into one of the disabled vehicles themselves, Matt Miller told Press-Gazette Media.

Steiner backed up his truck and turned on its flashers to warn oncoming motorists, then he and Miller got out to help the people involved in the crash. They found no one was seriously hurt, but both vehicles were absolutely dark and practically invisible. Two vehicles whizzed by, narrowly missing them, but a third crashed into one of the disabled vehicles, shoving it into the two men.

"It's sad that the other cars that were zipping through didn't stop," Douglas Steiner said.

"Especially after almost hitting me," Miller said.

Miller got a bruised hip out of the deal, but Steiner was thrown about 30 feet and over the railing of the overpass. Using his cellphone, Miller had the presence of mind to have the ambulance sent to Lime Kiln Road, not 172 where the crash happened, which would have delayed medical assistance. Miller then jumped down the embankment to help Steiner.

Steiner had been knocked unconscious but recovered to the point where Miller had to yell at him to not try to get up. But the variety of injuries, including broken bones and severed arteries, proved to be too much. To his family, it would almost have been easier had he been killed instantly.

"It was a rough week … watching him battle to try to stay alive, where one minute he seems OK and the next he's going downhill again," Douglas Steiner said. "It got worse and worse."

Steiner, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, had put in a year in Kuwait and survived a year in Afghanistan.

"What happened is horrifying to his whole family, but we're proud of him," Douglas Steiner said. "The fact is, Andy is deceased because he was trying to do something good. I wouldn't look at this any different than if Andy was overseas and his life was taken there."

Andy's funeral Friday featured a full military send-off, with fellow members of his reserve unit, the 395th out of Appleton, Desert Storm veterans and members of the Patriot Guard present. That, along with the warm wishes on Andy's Facebook page, named Prayers for Andrew Steiner, has helped, said his mother, Nicole Steiner.

The fact that the Facebook page has more than 3,400 "likes" also is gratifying, she said.

"These days, you hear about young people dying from drugs, alcohol, suicide," Douglas Steiner said. "Andy was trying to do something good, because he had a warm heart. And people who didn't even know him have been giving us warm thoughts. I think that helps."

Andrew Steiner enlisted in the Reserves in 2006, just two years after he graduated from Bay Port High School. Recently promoted to sergeant, he also worked as a fabricator for Cutting Edge Technology and was studying programming at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College. He loved fixing cars and trucks, riding his motorcycle and motocross.

Family members describe him as "fun" and "very outgoing."

"He was an adrenalin junkie," Nicole Steiner said.

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