SMDC member witnesses accident
November 18, 2011
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - While most eyes in Huntsville were getting ready to watch the Veterans Day Parade, one U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command officer witnessed even more excitement.
Col. James H. Jenkins III, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command chief of staff, witnessed an accident in which the driver of a minivan and others were injured when the driver lost control near Monroe and Jefferson streets and crashed near a crowd gathered before the annual parade in downtown Huntsville.
"At first I thought it was an explosion, then, I heard someone scream that a van had run over some bystanders on the curb," Jenkins said. "I immediately ran to the van and checked inside to see if all seemed OK. It was flipped on its driver side and it didn't look at first glance as if anyone were seriously injured. I then ran over to the three individuals sitting just behind the van, scraped up and in shock. They couldn't answer any of my questions about what happened or if someone was pinned under the van.
"Others who had made it on the scene with me had the same thought that someone could have easily been pinned under the van so in unison we flipped the van back over," he continued. "There were coolers, blankets, purses and other items there but luckily no child as we feared. I then rechecked on the driver, who was in pain, but responders were coming.
"I moved my attention back to the family behind the van," Jenkins added. "The grandmother saw the van coming and threw her daughter and grandson into the road and threw herself on top of them to avoid getting run over. They were bloodied some and in mild shock, but OK and by this time medical responders were on it."
One Huntsville official spoke about the cooperation between Soldiers and rescue workers after the accident.
"The cooperation of the city of Huntsville Public safety personnel and the Soldiers from Team Redstone was amazing," said Dr. Harry L. Hobbs, Huntsville Police Department communications relations officer. "All parties worked together quickly and in unison to turn the overturned vehicle upright to ensure the vehicle occupants were not injured further. The Soldiers also assisted to ensure there were no medical needs for any other members of the community who were near the accident.
"This was just another example of the City of Huntsville and Team Redstone working together for the safety of our community," he added.
Jenkins also praised the first responders and rescue workers attending the scene as well as the service men and women who rushed over immediately to the crash site and righted the van, with the unconscious driver still inside.
"They picked a great place to wreck, since responders of all types were there in seconds after me," Jenkins said. "I was most impressed that they allowed those of us in uniform to continue to help versus sweeping us away from the scene. It was a joint effort for the good of all."
Jenkins talked about how timing is everything and if something had not come up, he may have been a part of the accident as opposed to finding parts of the accident.
"I was a little hyped up for about an hour after this event because Sgt. Maj. John Mattie (SMDC G-3) and I were walking in the direction of the accident," Jenkins said. "If I had not gone to my car for one last errand, we would have been exactly on that spot when the accident occurred."