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Friday, May 6, 2016

Hometown heroes: Students save crash victim

Friday, November 9, 2007

(Photo)
North Putnam High School students (from left) Ross Oliver, 16, Clayton Jesse McMurtrey, 17, Taylor Thomas, 17, and Ashley Witt, 18, received a hero's welcome Thursday morning after risking their lives to rescue a woman from a burning pick-up truck early Saturday morning.
Sometimes teenagers don't think before they act. That is what happened early Saturday morning when four local youths spotted a burning pick-up truck on the side of the road.

Taylor Thomas, 16, and his girlfriend Ashley Witt, 18, rounded a corner on U.S. 231 near Fincastle at approximately 1:40 a.m. Just moments before Taylor Waldron, 32, lost control of her pick-up truck as she sped around the curve. After rolling over at least three times, her vehicle landed up-right, 235 feet from where it left the road. By the time Thomas and Witt arrived, flames already engulfed the truck and its driver.

The teenagers spotted the flames, pulled over, and immediately called 911. As Thomas emerged from his vehicle, Ross Oliver, 16, and Clayton Jesse McMurtrey, 17, pulled up behind him. They could hear a woman's screams coming from the flames.

"I didn't think anybody was in there," said McMurtrey. "I just kept thinking this can not be happening."

The flames spread fast, and fire officials estimate that by the time Thomas reached the truck, the fire was burning at more than 500 degrees and the temperature was rapidly rising.

"My first thought was to get her out," said Thomas.

He pulled on the door only twice. The first time it wouldn't budge. The second time, adrenalin soaring, he pulled it clear from its hinges. As the temperature in the cab rose,

Thomas reached inside the truck, through the flames, unbuckled the driver's seatbelt, and pulled her to safety.

Waldron was fully conscious, but badly burned as the teenagers carried her to the back of Oliver's truck.

"I introduced myself," said Thomas. "Then I just talked to her and tried to take her mind off of what had just happened."

Roachdale Fire Chief Mike Poole says that the teenagers acted just in time. After they pulled the woman free, the temperature inside the truck rose to more than 1000 degrees. "Drawing one breath of air that hot would scorch a person's lungs and kill them within seconds," said Poole.

(Photo)
Members of the Roachdale Fire Department, PMH Paramedics and Putnam County Operation Life presented four heroic students with service awards for saving an accident victim from certain death over the weekend. Fire Department officials plan to honor the four students at their annual bean dinner this Saturday at 7 p.m. Pictured are (back, from left) Roachdale Fire Department officials Terry Dean, Larry Kersey, Howard Hodge, Jack Jones, Mike Poole, Zach Bowers, PMH Paramedic, and Jenny Lien of Putnam County Operation Life, (front, from left) Ashley Witt, Taylor Thomas, Ross Oliver and Clayton Jesse McMurtrey.
According to Sgt. Tom Helmer who investigated the accident for the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, while Thomas comforted Waldron and waited for help, the other teenagers removed full gas cans from the back of the burning truck to prevent an explosion.

Waldron was airlifted to the Wishard Trauma Center and remains in critical condition.

Paramedics on the scene estimated that Waldron sustained third-degree burns to 45 percent of her body including her face, chest and abdomen, right arm and thigh. She also suffered a fractured cervical vertebrae and right leg.

"We are so thankful that they were there," said family friend Nikki Ray, who expressed shock after learning that her friend's rescuers were teenagers. "If they hadn't come around, we wouldn't have her now."

Trauma:

Memories of trauma can take on a life of thier own and be triggered unexpectidly. Images, sounds or smells that trigger memories that often linger long after an traumatic event.

"I'm doing fine," said Oliver, as he sat comfortably in North Putnam High School's gym, four days later. But "fine" disappears when he drives by the accident site.

"I come back around that same corner, and I'm gripping that steering wheel really tight," he said.

Thomas passes the crash site two to three times a day and says that night driving is the worst for him. "Driving at night, going down that road, I just keep thinking I'm going to see her again," he said.

McMurtrey is the only one who was there that night who does not have to pass the scene daily on the way to and from school, but says he can't seem to stay away. "I keep driving by because I just want to know how it all happened."

Though some described lack of sleep or general anxiety, all four teenagers agreed that the worst memory of all was the smell of someone burning.

"You can't get it out of your nose," said Thomas.

Fire Chief Mike Poole says that symptoms of post traumatic stress are common after a devastating accident, and he is particularly concerned about the four teenagers involved in Saturday's rescue.

"I've been in contact their families all week," said Poole. "We all want to make sure that they get the support that they need."

Kathy and Jon Snyder, say their son, Taylor Thomas, is doing as well as can be expected and hope that ceremony's like the one at North Putnam High School on Thursday, will help all of the kids focus on the end result -- a life was saved.

"It's hard to get over these things," said Mr. Snyder. "We want our son to focus on the good. The end result is that she is alive."

The Roachdale Fire Department will honor all four teenagers at their Annual Bean Dinner at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.

"We invite every county resident to come out and meet some local heroes," said Chief Poole.


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This courageous group of teenagers is such a breath of fresh air in this era of teenagers.

-- Posted by indtonyc on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 8:48 AM

What a wonderful, touching story! I wish all the best to each of these heroic teens. You acted with no thought of your own safety and deserve the recognition you are receiving. Likewise, Taylor Waldron and family will be in my prayers.

-- Posted by TinaS on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 1:55 PM

This was one of the most touching stories I have read in a very long time. These kids deserve to be honored and praised.

-- Posted by gray on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 2:03 PM

Taylor is my best friend.

I am beyond grateful to these heroic individuals for saving her life. I want to hug each of you.

Can someone please start a fund to honor these heroes?

Taylor's mom drove in from Kansas upon hearing of the accident, and I'm *certain* she'll want to meet these kids.

Her mom drove out with nothing but the clothes on her back, and she has no disposable income. I've been collecting donations for Taylor and her family, which has been a huge help. PayPal donations to helptaylor@broadreach.net will be cash in their pocket to re-clothe, feed and house the family while here in Indiana.

A link to donate is here: http://fluffthebunny.livejournal.com/256...

Taylor is a member of Central Christian Church in Indianapolis. She and her family appreciate prayer in their time of need.

Thank you!

-- Posted by FluffBunny on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 3:02 PM

Taylor is my best friend.

I am beyond grateful to these heroic individuals for saving her life. I want to hug each of you.

Can someone please start a fund to honor these heroes?

Taylor's mom drove in from Kansas upon hearing of the accident, and I'm *certain* she'll want to meet these kids.

Her mom drove out with nothing but the clothes on her back, and she has no disposable income. I've been collecting donations for Taylor and her family, which has been a huge help. PayPal donations to helptaylor@broadreach.net will be cash in their pocket to re-clothe, feed and house the family while here in Indiana.

A link to donate is here: http://fluffthebunny.livejournal.com/256...

Taylor is a member of Central Christian Church in Indianapolis. She and her family appreciate prayer in their time of need.

Thank you!

-- Posted by FluffBunny on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 3:06 PM

I have spoken with Taylor Waldron's mother. She would very much like to come meet these heroes.

She'll be coming to the dinner tomorrow.

Again, from us all, thank you!

-- Posted by FluffBunny on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 9:56 PM

Ashley Witt and Ross Oliver are both students on my School Bus Route, I am so very proud of both of them, as well as the other heroic teens who were with them at the time.

Your parents have done a fine job, their is no doubt in my mine what so ever.

-- Posted by MagyarGypsy on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 10:52 PM

I am a Senior at North Putnam and i know the four that helped that lady!!! I am really proud of what they did. I am really good friends with Ashley Witt and when she told me what had happened i could not believe her. And we are really proud of what Ashley, Taylor, Clayton, and Ross did. I think they did the right thing of stopping and helping that lady!!!!! Good job guys

-- Posted by foxracing_13_2003 on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 2:00 PM

A teenager willing to put someone else's needs in front of their own is truly something wonderful; it reaffirms my faith in our future leaders.

In today's society, we mainly hear of troubled teens, self-centered attitudes, and constant complaints that teenagers aren't being taught responsibility. THANK YOU, a million times, THANK YOU...for proving to the world that there really ARE wonderful teenagers who give of themselves and ask for nothing in return, put someone else before their own needs, and are willing to "act" rather than be a spectator...or complainer.

-- Posted by 06purple18 on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 6:49 PM

Thanks to all of you that showed great courage and selflessness that night. Taylor was a dear friend of mine for many years, thanks for not letting her burn to death. I personally compensated these brave young men and woman with 500$ each, regretfully, due to an ethics meeting which I wasn't part of, the decision was made to end life sustaining measures, I am studying to be a PA and asked the nurse why this was the outcome, "quality of life" she said. The nurse didn't even know the c1 and c2 are called the atlas and axis, and if Taylor actually walked herself to the back of the other truck, there's no way any spinal cord damage could have been done, i was met with this comment from this nurse "well, the head/neck stabilizing aparatus may have severed the nerve", bullshit. Those kids saved her and Wishard killed her for economic reasons.

Joe Perkins

-- Posted by josephperkins on Wed, Nov 21, 2007, at 11:35 PM

hey guys, I am taylor's nephew, I wish ya'll the best, but thank you so much for doin all you could for taylor, I would like each of you to e-mail me, at joeste09@yahoo.com I would appriciate it thank you

-- Posted by joe09 on Thu, Dec 13, 2007, at 7:57 PM

taylor was my life, i loved her so much.

she was on her way to my house that night. took me along time to get over all this. i want to thank you 4 brave and beauitful angels who risked there lifes to help my best friend. thank you for giving me 11 days to tell her how much i loved her. i am always here if any of you 4 need to talk or anything.

thank you again so much. keith

-- Posted by viper124 on Mon, Dec 17, 2007, at 10:26 PM

I know your still gone to this day, But I still miss you and wish you were still here for me when I need you the most

-- Posted by Hollisterguy18 on Sun, Oct 12, 2008, at 5:02 AM

Look i just want 2 thank the teens that pulled my aunt taylor out of the truck.if they hadnt we would have never got to say good bye to her.the teens deserved an award...THANK YOU for pulling her out of the truck even know she didnt make it.

-- Posted by kizzy nae on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 11:29 AM


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