By Wayne Amann, Office of Special Investigations Public Affairs
/ Published August 12, 2020
Special Agent Robert Davis and Lieve Cuypers did not expect to spend his birthday-comp day as good Samaritans.
On Aug. 4, the two did just that. Davis, Office of Special Investigations Warfighter Readiness and Execution deputy associate director, and Cuypers, OSI Investigations, Collections, Operations Nexus Center key spouse, were traveling eastbound on I-64 near Quinton when they approached a single-vehicle accident. A red sedan had flipped over into a ditch and was smoking. Davis ran to the vehicle.
“I determined the accident just occurred because of the way the vehicle appeared,” Davis said. “Only a couple of bystanders stopped but no one was taking action. If not me, then who? I knew I had to ensure that the accident victims were okay.”
He used his OSI-issued resqme device, a spring-loaded stainless steel spike designed to easily break side windows, to disintegrate the upside-down driver’s side window that was partially buried in the ground. Cries of help could be heard inside and a woman’s arms emerged.
When Davis and another motorist pulled the woman out of the vehicle she started screaming “my baby” was inside. The baby was a 4-to-5-year-old girl who was mobile. Davis heard her talking and told her to come toward him. She crawled out of the car where Davis and the other motorist assisted her to safety.
Davis yelled into the car to determine if anyone else was inside and heard a male voice saying he was the last one. The man extended his arm slightly out of the car so Davis and the motorist could pull him to safety.
“Scenarios from my Counter-Threat Operations Course definitely helped me focus on what was important at the scene and to drown out unimportant distractions like bystanders shouting misinformation,” Davis said. “Self-aid buddy care was also useful that day.”
At that instant there was a loud boom on the interstate approaching the accident signaling a secondary series of crashes from onlookers. The scene became chaotic as traffic tried to flow through the carnage and debris.
“I've been exposed to plenty of traumatic crime scenes so the destruction didn’t faze me. It allowed me to be cool and collected,” Davis said.
The driver of a silver sedan was able to get out of her vehicle on her own, as was the driver and infant in the back seat of the compact rear-ended by the sedan. However, the compact’s passenger took the brunt of the impact when it collided with a truck. As Davis ran to the latest crashes, two motorists pulled the passenger out to safety.
Meanwhile, Cuypers attended to the woman from the first accident who had a seizure. She poured water on the woman’s wrists as a motorist with nursing experience talked her through the seizure. After the woman was stabilized, Cuypers provided water to the man and young girl.
She then ran back to her car to retrieve a fire extinguisher and bring it to the second accident scene and gave it to a motorist who was concerned the compact car could ignite. Cuypers attended to the victims at this scene, stabilizing them and providing water when it could be administered safely.
Davis, wearing a reflective vest, took control of the traffic, reducing it to a safe speed, and routing it safely around the destruction as the scene awaited first responders. While directing traffic, Davis suddenly noticed the compact car started to roll back towards the victims and quickly acted to stop it.
This marks the third major accident Davis has encountered. The first time was on the B-51 road near Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Retired SA Scott View and Davis came upon a two-vehicle accident where one of the cars was sheared in half.
“SA View's bravery during that situation was remarkable, for which I put him in for a medal,” Davis recalled.
Davis doesn’t talk about the second accident much.
“I was driving home from work at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and came upon a driving-under-the-influence accident. A drunk driver pulled out in front of a pickup truck on a major highway. I used the resqme then, too, to get to the drunk driver from the passenger side because he was fused into his door. I couldn't get him out, but I stayed with him until he passed away in my arms,” he said.
Emergency services arrived shortly after.
Those experiences prepared Davis for what happened on I-64 by driving with the safety equipment he keeps in his vehicle.
“I normally store a tourniquet, small first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, flashlight, reflective markers, latex gloves, safety vest, and the resqme in my car,” he said. “After this latest experience, I'm adding emergency blankets to that kit as well.”