MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — A teenager who survived a civil war could not live through a tragic crash on a Twin Cities bridge.

Medard Prosper, 19, died Thursday night on Highway 55. His tire blew on the Mendota Bridge. Prosper tried getting out of the car while it was still moving, but his foot got caught. His own car ran him over.

Known for an infectious smile and an inner strength most of us will never know, Prosper had finally started to feel the meaning of his last name.

Five years ago, Prosper lost both of his parents to the civil war in Congo. On a 500-mile trek to safety with his brothers and sisters, he watched three of them die from malnutrition and disease.

A senior at Highland Park High School, Prosper would have graduated in June.

Winston Tucker is the Principal.

“Medard stated for our newspaper, and I quote, ‘I was born for the second time in the USA,’” Tucker said.

He spoke five languages and had plans to study international relations in college to help other orphans overcome the world’s wars.

Prosper was on his way to work at UPS when he tried to escape his moving car after his front tire blew.

They are the mistakes Chris Lake-Smith teaches teenagers.

While we may never know all of the circumstances surrounding Prosper’s crash, Smith says it’s time young people are taught what can happen.

“There is no circumstance that I can think of where it’s ok to get out of a moving vehicle,” Lake-Smith said.

In the case of a flat tire, he says a driver’s reaction should be different depending on which wheel it is. It’s not as dangerous in the back, but if it’s the front, your car will pull more to that side so you’ll want to counter it slowly.

“The safest thing to do is to stop as quickly as is safe,” Lake-Smith said.

Sadly, one young man won’t get another chance to do things differently even if he is so deserving of one.

Lake-Smith is an instructor this weekend at a teen accident training course at the Mall of America. All sessions are full, but you’ll find more information here.

As for Prosper, friends from other states are coming to Minnesota to pay their respects and his funeral service plans have yet to be announced.


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