Reserve Soldiers respond to dangerous truck accident
March 26, 2014
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (March 26, 2014) -- Three Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 348th Regiment, were among the first to respond to an overturned 18-wheeled tractor-trailer carrying flammable material on Interstate-59 in Hattiesburg, Miss., March 11.
The truck, carrying liquid acrylonitrile, an explosive compound, skidded off the road and crashed into the embankment.
"I was just doing my job as a Soldier," said Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Christy, a combat medic and the first Soldier to arrive at the scene.
Christy explained he parked his vehicle in the distance and ran up to the truck within a minute of the crash. When he arrived, a civilian was trying to kick in the windshield to free the driver. Christy said he immediately took control of the situation and directed the driver to free himself and climb out from the door.
As the driver was climbing out of the vehicle Army Reserve Capt. Amanda McDonald, a chemical officer and a nurse by trade, arrived to provide assistance.
The truck was leaking diesel and hazardous fumes from its cargo. McDonald and Christy escorted the driver away from the fumes before McDonald further evaluated the driver.
"Because of the contents of the vehicle, we were anticipating a fire or explosion," said McDonald. "The fumes were moving down the hill."
Army Reserve Master Sgt. Bobby Dean, an engineer, also arrived at the scene to divert vehicles away from the potential hazard. The three Soldiers stayed until the local police, fire department, and ambulance arrived. Christy gave the police a brief of the situation while McDonald directed the ambulance toward the driver.
Christy said the driver of the vehicle was fortunate to have walked away with only a laceration on the leg and scrapes to his arm.
"When I heard about what they had done, I was very proud of our Soldiers," said Army Reserve Lt. Col. Daniel Leavitt, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 348th Regiment. "Not only did they display selfless service by reacting quickly and responding to an accident involving a civilian truck driver in need of help, they demonstrated personal courage dealing with a situation involving hazardous explosive materials."
Leavitt added several months prior, another medic with the 3rd Battalion, 348th Regiment, had assisted a driver in an overturned vehicle.
"These are the types of actions that leave no doubt in my mind that the Soldiers within the 3-348th are experts and professionals in what they do," said Leavitt.
Leavitt went on to say he feels the pairing of military training and civilian skills these Soldiers possess could not have been a better fit in this situation. He said their skills allowed the team to properly and safely assess the situation, provide assistance to the driver and manage traffic until the civilian authorities could arrive and take over.
"Since our arrival in January, the local community in the Hattiesburg area around Camp Shelby, Mississippi, has been very welcoming and friendly to our unit and all of our Soldiers," Leavitt said. "I hope this helps to further solidify friendships and shows that we are an organization that lives, works and participates in our community."