Apollo Beach, Florida -- "A great American." That's how coworkers are describing an Iraq War veteran hit and killed as he tried to help a stranded driver.
Troopers say charges are pending against the driver of a passing car that hit Chad Ries as he stopped in the dark to help someone at U.S. 41 and Mirabay Boulevard in Apollo Beach.
"There were no strangers to Chad. He was one of those guys that just got along with everybody," said Scott Gagnon, who worked with the 32-year-old Good Samaritan at World Wide Technology, Inc. in Tampa.
The two were friends for close to a decade.
Gagnon says after two tours in Iraq, Ries put away his uniform and left the Army -- but he continued to serve America.
Ries was a frequent face at MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa, because even after his military service ended, he kept on supporting the red, white, and blue. Ries worked with top leaders at MacDill and other Air Force bases across the Southeast to build strong, secure networks of military computers.
Was he surprised Ries would stop along the side of the road to help a total stranger?
"Not at all. Not at all. He was just that kind of guy. He would go talk to anybody, he would help out anybody that needed help," Gagnon said.
"Just a great American. A very grounded individual, family man."
Ries leaves behind a wife and two children younger than five.
Gagnon says he's confident his company and this community will help them going forward, and help them understand the kind of person we all lost trying to help along the side of that dark road.
10 News talked on the phone with Ries' family. They say they can't believe after surviving such danger overseas he would lose his life just a few miles from his home in Ruskin.