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Keesler Tech Sgt. Assists in I-10 Rescue

Story by Perry Jenifer, Keesler News editor      Filed 11/17/06  GCN

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. - A noncommissioned officer from the 45th Airlift Squadron assisted in the rescue of a woman from her overturned and submerged club-cab pickup truck on rain-swept I-10 Nov. 15.

Tech. Sgt. Eric Bailey (photo right) was on his morning commute from his home in Gulfport to Keesler when he witnessed the accident.

"The truck hydroplaned out of control into the median, rolled on its side, slid into about four feet of standing water in the middle of the median and rolled on over onto its top," he said.

Sergeant Bailey stopped on the edge of the median and raced on foot to the upside down truck.  He was able to open the passenger side door enough to squeeze part way into the cab, which was filled with water.

"I was disoriented in the dark and under water, and couldn't find the driver," he recalled.  "Then, the door closed on my hips.  I was running out of breath, so I dislodged myself and went up for air."

Back on the surface, Sergeant Bailey met another motorist who stopped to help.  They quickly agreed they'd have to turn the truck upright in order to free the driver.  Pushing and pulling together, they were successful.

With the truck right side up, the driver, a woman Sergeant Bailey estimated to be in her 60s, floated unconscious to the surface of the water in the flooded cab. 

"The driver's side door was locked.  Another man who stopped went in through the passenger side door and unlocked it so we could get the woman out," Sergeant Bailey said.

The three men carried the woman to the edge of the road, where she regained consciousness.  Moments later, Biloxi police and an ambulance arrived.

The woman was taken to Biloxi Regional Medical Center, treated for minor cuts and bruises and released, according to Sergeant Bailey, who removed her personal belongings from the truck and delivered them to her there.

He stayed with the woman, known to him only as "Patricia," until contact was made with her son.  She was on her way from Texas to Alabama to visit him when the accident occurred.

As Sergeant Bailey was about to leave the hospital, "She told me to expect a Christmas card from a very thankful new friend."

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