“I was wondering how bad it hurts to get shot,” says 2011 Goodyear Highway Hero winner Mike Schiotis, telling us what was going through his mind last fall when he put himself in between a man with a .357 handgun and the woman the gunman intended to murder.
|Mike Schiotis (right) and brother Pete ( left)|
But still, we were hoping to press for more detail … Boy, did we get an earful.
Schiotis, who works for Seville, Ohio-based Panther Expedited Services Inc., was driving to his destination in Pennsylvania on Nov. 1, 2011, when he saw a woman walking with a man close behind her. Mike slowed down and noticed that the man was pointing a gun at the woman. Most people would instinctively see a gun and get the heck out of there. Mike says for an instant, his shifting arm twitched, ready to do just that. But in a split second, the decision was made. He just could not leave her.
A prayer raced through his mind as the woman screamed for help, erasing any doubt and any fear from his thoughts. He stopped his truck. She ran up to his truck’s door, pounding on it and begging Mike to help her.
“I knew I could get shot, I mean here’s this guy with a .357 and he was gonna use it. … I thought ‘I could be with my Lord tonight …’ and I was suddenly at some kind of peace. I knew whatever happened, it was OK, I had to do what I could. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s how I processed it. It came to me clear as a bell and I could never do it like that again if I tried.”
Mike jumped out of his truck and positioned himself between the woman and the man. She was bleeding from the head, having been badly beaten by her attacker. Mike helped the woman into his rig and described to us how she clawed her way desperately into the seat, seeking shelter from the would-be killer.
When Mike jumped into the driver’s seat, they took off, her attacker in pursuit in his car. Mike first decided to pull into a truck stop, but then decided it was safer to continue down the highway. The guy was still following.
Meanwhile, Mike notified the Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol, then used his CB radio to tell other truckers in the area what was happening.
“Another truck driver, who was behind me, drove up beside my truck to keep the guy from getting close enough to get a shot at us.”
Together, they drove side-by-side, weaving back and forth, giving troopers time to catch up with the man and take him into custody.
Mike said the guy fully intended to kill the woman. It was a relationship gone bad and she was three months pregnant. The man had a note in his shirt pocket revealing he was then going to shoot himself. Mike said three days later she miscarried her baby due to the violent incident.
The woman – he learned that her name was Anna – has been in contact with Mike, and after the incident he was invited to meet her under better circumstances. “When I met her and some of her co-workers, it really hit me, here’s this really nice person, full of life, and she could have been dead.”
Mike’s brother Pete was Mike’s guest at the awards banquet last night in Louisville. He said when Mike told him what happened, Pete first thought ,“Are you serious, dude? You did what?” But after thinking about it, he wasn’t surprised that his brother would respond like he did.