The Marine Corps Recruiting Substation in Anderson was getting ready for physical training, when they heard the crash.
“The sound of the crash caused us all to turn,” said Private First Class Richard L. Pelot, recruiter assistant, RSS Anderson. “When we turned around, we saw the car jump the curb and crash into a tree.”
Dropping all of their gear, the Marines and poolees rushed across the street to the car. In the car were two women who were unable to get themselves out.
“The horn was going off from the truck that hit them and they were hysterically screaming,” said Staff Sgt. Diandra R. Whitfield, recruiter, RSS Anderson. “There was smoke coming from the car. I kept thinking please don’t blow up on us, but I knew we had to get them out.”
They were able to get the passenger out of the car with little difficulty but had a harder time getting the driver out because her door was smashed in from the wreck.
“They were screaming so loud, it sounded like their lungs were about to break,” said Whitfield. “I knew I had to calm them down. I said ‘Ma’am you need to calm down’ but being nice wasn’t working. Once I was sterner with her and told her she had to calm down, it registered.”
Whitfield took over after getting all the victims from their vehicles and had them lay down to wait for authorities to arrive.
“The moment we got hit by that truck, time seemed to stop and we felt helpless,” wrote Julia and Joanne, in their thank you letter to the Marines. “What seemed like only seconds after we finally hit the tree, a whole group of you showed up and helped us to get out of our car when we were stuck.”
Their letter also stated that even in that scary situation they felt protected and comforted by those who had helped them.
“We just took control of the situation,” said Whitfield. “We heard it and it clicked. We all just reacted.”
Looking back on the event, Whitfield says she is more proud about how her new Marines and poolees reacted.
“When I asked them how it made them feel afterwards, it was just amazing to hear their responses” said Whitfield. “They knew they did the right thing and it was what had to be done. It’s just human nature to help other people.”
Noah Millspaugh, D.W. Daniel High School, Quinn Brown-Faust, Kristian Robinson, T.L. Hanna High School and Casey Carter, West Oak High School were the poolees who helped get the women out of their car. Staff Sgt. Diandra R. Whitfield, Private First Class Matthew D. HolleyGreene and Private First Class Richard L. Pelot were the Marines who assisted.