By Fort Rucker Public Affairs StaffMarch 13, 2008
Fort Rucker and surrounding communities responded to a tragic accident Sunday with heartfelt efficiency for which the area has become renowned.
Directorate of Public Safety director Lt. Col. David Lewis described the response of this lower Alabama post and neighboring cities as "a phenomenal effort." "The key to the success of (Sunday's efforts) was the response of the local community," he said.
A bus accident at Mateson Range Sunday morning injured all passengers on board and caused the death of Marine Lance Cpl. David H. Miles, 19. Miles was among the Marines from E Company, Anti-Terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, out of Tallahassee, Fla., and Bessemer who were returning from a weekend training exercise here when the accident occurred. Fort Rucker's Air Ambulance Detachment "Flatiron" medically evacuated four of the injured Marines following the accident at about 9:20 a.m. Sunday.
Other injured Marines were transported to area hospitals.
"The emergency response from the local communities was tremendous," said Garrison Commander Col. Scott Larese. "We had responders out there within eight minutes of the call. Once again, the Wiregrass was there for us in an instant and we truly appreciate their support."
Wiregrass agencies who responded to the accident included: Fort Rucker Fire Department, military police, ground and air ambulances; Enterprise Rescue Inc., Coffee County Emergency Medical Services, Enterprise Fire Department, New Brockton Fire Department, Hartford EMS, Care Ambulance of Ozark, Coffee County Sheriff Department, Dale County Sheriff Department, Enterprise Police Department, Alabama State Troopers. Deputy Garrison Commander George Steuber praised the response of not only the Fort Rucker team but of the entire Wiregrass community who came together to assist the 23 injured Marines.
"I am so proud of the Fort Rucker team and how we all came together to help our comrades in arms," Steuber said. "Within an hour of the accident, those 23 Marines were being taken care of in area hospitals."
Miles, of Madison, Ala., served as a basic rifleman. He joined the Marine Corps May 15, 2007, and reported for duty Aug. 11, 2007. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal.
Two of the 23 Marines who were injured remain hospitalized in area hospitals; all listed in serious but stable condition. The 23 Marines are members of First and Headquarters platoons of Bessemer.
The driver of the civilian contracted bus has been charged with reckless driving-traffic accident with injuries by Fort Rucker authorities; however, the accident remains under investigation.
All equipment and weapons were recovered from the accident scene.