Story by Senior Airman Jovante Johnson
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Luckily for a family of four in a flipped over SUV on a busy Interstate, two Airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base pulled over at the crash scene and helped save the family’s lives.
Tech. Sgt. Lorrentis Oliver, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron requirements and optimization NCOIC, and Airman 1st Class Marrissa McClure, 2nd CES operations manager, pulled over to the side of the road after witnessing a Cadillac Escalade blow a tire and flip over five times on I-20, July 12, 2021.
“The scene was unbelievable, like something I have only seen on television,” said Oliver. “I only caught the end of the car wreck because I was driving, but McClure spotted the whole thing and she immediately signaled for me to pull over in order to help the victims.”
After pulling over and assessing the accident, it took little time for the Airmen to spring into action and help the victims inside the totaled vehicle.
“I am very knowledgeable about cars because I work on them quite often, and as we pulled up to the vehicle, I knew from the damage that the driver side door was not going to open,” said Oliver. “I grabbed the knife I keep on my dashboard and headed for the passenger side of the car.”
While approaching the car, Oliver and McClure saw that there were three victims in the vehicle, an adult woman, a two year old girl, and a six year old girl. For Oliver, this hit close to home, as he has a young daughter of his own. He instinctively went to rescue the girls and get them to safety first, while McClure went to the aid of the woman in the driver’s seat.
“Our initial thoughts were to make sure the children were out of harm’s way and to make sure that they remained calm,” said McClure. “After sergeant Oliver removed the children from the vehicle, I remained with them and tried to keep them as calm as possible while Tech. Sgt. Oliver used his knife to remove the driver from the vehicle.”
Oliver cut the seatbelt of the driver and removed her from the smoking vehicle.
“As I removed the woman from the vehicle, she started crying hysterically and asking about her husband, who she remembered to be in the car,” said Oliver. “I had only seen three people in the vehicle, so I thought side effects from the car accident had made her think her husband was in the car with them.”
While Oliver helped the driver to safety, he noticed that the girls were crying and pointing to something in the road. As he got closer to them it became clear what they were crying for.
“As I approached the girls I understood that they were crying for the concern of their father who had been thrown from the vehicle during the accident,” said Oliver. “He was lying in the middle of the interstate, surrounded by a few people, and looked to be pretty banged up.”
As McClure tried her best to comfort the family, Oliver went over to check on the husband and father, who was badly injured but still alive, as they all waited on the paramedics to arrive.
“As the paramedics arrived, I couldn’t think of anything else but that this actually happened right in front of us,” said McClure. “I was still in complete shock knowing that it could have happened to us. I have always been really big on safety, but this accident put a lot in perspective of just how necessary it is to be safe when driving.”
The mother walked away with a broken wrist and hand, the daughters sustained minimal injuries, and the father survived with 12 broken ribs, a punctured lung, and road rash on his face and arms. Though all these injuries have affected the family, the victims constantly give thanks to Oliver and McClure for their life saving efforts that day.
“The family has been in constant contact with us since the accident and constantly thank us for what we did for them that day,” said McClure. “Neither Tech. Sgt. Oliver nor myself feel like heroes, but the family we helped that day tells us otherwise.”