Crew chief assists in crash rescue
January 13, 2009
KILLEEN, Texas - Ryan Frushour does not consider himself a hero. He did what he says anyone would have done.
Following Frushour's valiant efforts to assist an injured driver after a fiery car crash in Killeen, Dec. 31, many may think otherwise, as he and several other onlookers helped the casualty by removing him from his crushed vehicle and delivering vital first aid.
Frushour, a Denver native and UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief for Company B, 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, was replacing his windshield wiper motor at an auto-parts store when the devastating accident took place right before his eyes.
"I was in O'Reilly's parking lot when I heard a loud noise, and when I turned around I saw a fire hydrant skidding along the ground and a car tumbling through the air," recalls Frushour. "There were explosions of dust every time the car hit the ground, and it smashed through a billboard and sliced through a telephone pole like a knife."
After the car came to a halt and the gravity of the accident registered in Frushour's mind, he ran into the store to tell them to call 911 before running to the scene of the accident where Frushour said he was the first person present followed by two O'Reilly's employees.
"The car was mangled, and the first thing I thought was 'this guy is probably dead,'" said Frushour. "He had his seatbelt on, and he was alive but even though he was conscious, he was dazed obviously ... as anyone would be after spinning through the air like he did."
The driver was a fellow uniformed Soldier who had just gotten off work, said Frushour, who initially thought the best idea would be to leave the victim in the car.
"I went over and found his checkbook and identified him, asked him who he was, talked to him, just to make sure he was conscious," Frushour explains. "He responded well and told me where he was from when I saw smoke coming from the car hood and flames rising from the bottom of the vehicle."
Frushour then made the decision to remove the victim from the car and it became apparent how serious his injuries were -- with bone protruding from a compound fracture wound in his arm along with severely crushed fingers.
"One of the workers from O'Reilly's unbuckled his seatbelt, and we removed him from the vehicle, but he was able to walk on his own," said Frushour. "We sat him down a safe distance from the vehicle and looked him over while another O'Reilly's employee grabbed a fire extinguisher to control the flames."
A motorist passing by the scene gave Frushour a first aid kit she had in her vehicle, which was used to temporarily bandage the casualty.
"We all helped treat the victim together; it wasn't just one person," Frushour bluntly states. "There was so much going on we couldn't work individually; it was a team effort -- I'm not going to take credit for everything."
Shortly after an ambulance arrived, emergency medical technicians relieved Frushour and the O'Reilly employees of their impromptu rescue efforts. Frushour said he credits basic Army training as a vital part of his first aid efforts in helping the driver.
"It definitely helped because we didn't have any [advanced medical] supplies and the first aid kit we had was basically just green bandages," said Frushour.
Frushour then gave the police a detailed report of the accident after which he found himself shaking from the adrenaline of the events -- his hands covered in the victim's blood -- although he claims to not have been shocked by the scene.
"I've deployed to Iraq before, and my father was a Denver police officer, so I grew up around things like this," said Frushour.
The nature of Frushour's actions in braving the rescue scene were echoed by Spc. Christopher Wheeler, a Black Hawk mechanic assigned to 3rd ACB, 227th AR, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div., who has worked with Frushour since 2006 and admitted to initially being surprised by Frushour's efforts.
"I was surprised because Ryan isn't the kind of Soldier to stand up in front of everybody and make a joke about himself or anything like that," said Waylor. "Normally, he's a quiet guy who sticks to himself. So when he told me what happened, I congratulated him on a good job."
Wheeler expressed how proud Frushour's company's Soldiers are of him, adding that working with Frushour everyday is always unpredictable.
"It's always fun; there's never a dull moment with Ryan," said Waylor. "We've been working together since 2006 when the battalion stood up; so I'd consider him a close friend."
Frushour says several people have labeled him a hero for his part in the accident efforts, but he is quick to dispel such a tag.
"I don't consider myself a hero because anyone else would have done the same thing," said Frushour. "It was just the time and place, and I happened to be there."