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Two Fort Benning Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment were recently commended by the responding officer from the Columbus Police Department for their actions that led to the rescue of a pregnant mother and her three children from a car accident.
First responders, Staff Sgts. Robert Beauchamp and Zack Labas, said they were prepared to do whatever it took to help someone in need.
"I think any uniformed Soldier who would have been there at that time would have done the same thing and that's what so great about the Army," Labas said.
At approximately 8 p.m. Feb. 18, Beauchamp and Labas were traveling home from work along Victory Drive in separate vehicles when they responded to the scene of an accident following an alleged domestic disturbance. A car carrying a woman, who was seven months pregnant, and her three small children had rolled multiple times before landing on its roof near a Huddle House restaurant located at 1805 Victory Drive after being struck by another vehicle that sped off.
"While we were driving down Victory Drive, the cars sped past me and they had to be going 85 miles per hour, it looked like the cars were glued together bumper to bumper," Labas said. "About 100 meters after they passed me, you could see brakes lights from the other traffic slowing down and the vehicle was flipped."
Beauchamp and Labas said they proceeded to block traffic from the victims with their cars and removed the children, including an infant in a car seat. Using a first aid bag, the two cleaned and treated several lacerations on the children. They said it was a combination of Army training and combat experience that helped them to respond quickly and calmly to the otherwise chaotic scene.
"We were both EMT certified through the Army and we've been trained on those types of incidents, so they were a little familiar to us," Beauchamp said. "There was a lot of frustration and panic, and people inside the Huddle House started to rush out. It was important that we kept (the victims) from being crowded."
Officer Nathan Tooley of the Columbus Police Department Patrol Division was the first emergency services police officer to respond to the scene. Tooley served with the 75th Ranger Regiment before medically retiring from the Army and joining the police department six years ago. He said the actions of Beauchamp and Labas were impressive, yet the skill and compassion he experienced as a Soldier was familiar.
"The way that they stopped and helped those children is unbelievable," Tooley said. "They had the whole scene under control when I arrived. The kids were laying on the grass ... and they were checking vital signs ... the only thing EMS had do was to put them in the ambulance and leave because of their fast thinking and ability to do that.
"The way they stopped the bleeding and wrapped them up was at the level that doctors (at the hospital) thought our EMS rescue people did it."
Tooley said their actions not only saved the lives of the victims but also provided information that led to an arrest that compiled more than 14 charges against the driver of the other vehicle, eight of which were felony offenses.