By Wilson A. Rivera / Fort Gordon Public AffairsMarch 31, 2010
FORT MEADE, Md. - (March 31, 2010) -- Five Soldier's initial military training assisted in the apprehension of a hit-and-run suspect who struck two women around 8 p.m. March 19 on Route 198 in Laurel, Md.
Critically injured were a woman, 29, and a 14-year-old girl, who were crossing the road when hit by the 23-year-old male driver who then fled the scene after the two victims were dragged some distance underneath his car.
The Soldiers, assigned to the U.S. Army Signal School Detachment, 447th Signal Battalion, for advance individual training at Fort Meade, Md., were off-duty in a vehicle behind another car when Pvt. Heidi A. Davis, a multimedia illustrator trainee (25M), saw what seemed like a car with a flat tire, instead was realized to be a person.
"We were all in shock; like whoa," said Davis. "Basically natural instinct kicked in and then it was like a mutual understanding between us. 'Hey we need to go get this guy and try to stop him or at least get his license plate number.'"
Davis called 911 and advised emergency services of where the two women were located as Pvt. Vidar A. Quow, a visual information equipment operator-maintainer trainee (25R), followed the suspect for two miles. When the suspect's vehicle approached a stop sign near a shopping mall, Quow made a split decision to position his Dodge Durango in front of the suspect's vehicle when it stopped.
Once stopped, Pvt. Tristan O. Roberts, a public affairs specialist-broadcaster trainee (46R), was on the phone with another 911 dispatch alerting authorities of their location. Quow saw a police patrol at the shopping mall and ran to them. Pvts. Aaron M. Dettling, a combat documentation/production specialist trainee (25V), and Zackary T. Root, a public affairs specialist-writer trainee (46Q), stepped out of the vehicle to approach the suspect.
"We were all worried that this male might have a gun or knife," said Davis. "It was a little tense, since this could have been a harmful situation."
As the Soldiers exited their vehicle, the suspect also calmly stepped out of his without showing any signs of aggression, said Davis. From being in the military and what they have been trained to do in basic combat training, reacting to different situations, Davis thought their actions justified, their duty to make sure the individual didn't get away.
Dettling went to retrieve the keys of the suspect's vehicle while Root, worried if the suspect had a weapon, spoke out to the suspect to put his hands on his head and he complied. Root gave the suspect a quick pat down and told him to sit on the curb with his hands still on his head until the police arrive.
"I was pretty stern," said Root when speaking to the suspect. "He listened to all the commands I gave without any argument."
Root attributed his response dealing with the suspect to his basic combat training tasks and battle drills.
"Without basic training, I would have been a lot more scareful going into that situation," said Quow.
In 2005, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command made changes to what battle tasks and drills were taught at basic combat training to include modern Army urban operations.
"I handled it a lot better than I would have if I hadn't gone through basic training since it's a high intensity environment," said Roberts. "I was calm, and didn't stress out.
Minutes after, the police arrived and placed the suspect in custody. An investigator told the Soldiers that he wouldn't have known where he would have been with this hit-and-run investigation if it wasn't for their involvement.
"I feel after this situation, it was our duty as Soldiers and citizens to show and let everyone out there look at this and know helping others out is the right thing to do," said Roberts.
The two victims were flown to local hospitals in the Washington area. Further information about the incident is under investigation by the Laurel Police Department, Md.