Military police aid accident victims
September 8, 2011
By Staff Report
HEIDELBERG, Germany - A screech and crash echoed through the air in Kirchheim last July, and Sgt. 1st Class Philip Huestis ran out of his mother-in-law's house toward the sound.
He saw a motorcyclist lying motionless on the side street. As the first on the scene, he administered CPR on the wounded German man.
There had been a tragic accident that led to the death of the young man. After colliding with a van, he lost control of his motorcycle and as he struggled to regain it, he drove head on into the stopped car of Jane Jackson, a licensed clinical social worker for the Heidelberg Medical Department Activity.
When the local German Polizei arrived, Jackson faced an unfamiliar law enforcement process and said she felt reluctant to speak about the accident.
When Soldiers from the 529th Military Police Company showed up at the scene, and she was joined by Col. Rebecca Tomsyck, chief of behavioral health, Jackson was relieved and reassured by their presence.
Huestis and an off-duty German firefighter who also responded to the scene continued rescue efforts for at least 30 minutes until the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz arrived.
Huestis is coincidentally a former member of the 529th Military Police Company and was on leave before a permanent change of station move the next morning.
He was still on hand when the three military policemen of his former unit appeared.
Sgt. David Crocket, Spc. Alexander Newlan and Sgt. Brent Opstad, all from the 529th MP traffic unit, arrived shortly after the German Polizei and stayed for up to five hours to assist Jackson.
"Though the process resulted in these Soldiers having to work overtime, they did so without complaint or impatience," wrote Jackson, in a letter of appreciation to U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg Commander Col. Bryan DeCoster.
Opstad arranged for Jackson's car to be towed, secured a rental car and all three MPs made sure she arrived safely home that night.
Newlan carefully explained the investigation process to her and answered her questions, as did Crocket.
"We did our best to take care of her," Newlan said. He noted the comforting effect of having something familiar around in a time of crisis in a foreign country.
Crocket even had the disturbing task of informing the family members arriving at the scene of their deceased relative.
"We're not usually the ones making death notifications," he said.
All the Soldiers combined efforts helped to lessen the stress Jackson felt that unsettling evening. In her letter, Jackson's pride and gratitude for them radiated off the stark white paper.
"I can say without hesitation that no officers of the law could have handled the scene ... any better than the above officers of the Heidelberg 529th MP," she concluded.
When asked if he considered their efforts that night to be above and beyond the call of duty, Newlan shrugged.
"It's just all in a day's work," he said.
Newlan, Opstad, Crockett and Huestis have been recommended for awards for their actions.
NOTE: Brooke Brown contributed to this report.