“When I saw him, I knew I had a chance to stay alive. I was bleeding out pretty bad, but I wasn’t going to give up.” – Colton Rogers
An Army recruiter was driving to his unit’s awards ceremony when he came across the scene of a devastating car crash on a Mississippi highway. To his shock, Sgt. 1st Class Corey Engard saw a man dangling upside down inside a mangled truck, and missing much of one leg.
The trapped man, 22-year-old Colton Rogers, was bleeding profusely.
“He was clearly in shock and unaware of what was happening, no aid was on-scene, and I knew I needed to act fast,” Engard said of the Nov. 17 incident.
Rogers felt hope when Engard arrived.
“I was dangling from the seatbelt with all my body weight held up by the seatbelt, trying to reach for my pocketknife to cut myself loose,” Rogers said. “When I saw him [Engard], I knew I had a chance to stay alive. I was bleeding out pretty bad, but I wasn’t going to give up,” Rogers said. “All I could hear other people saying were ‘Oh my God, how are we going to get him out?’”
Engard got Rogers out of the truck.
“Once I managed to pull him from the vehicle, the screaming and panicking really started to set in…he was in pain and scared,” Engard said. “I immediately went into ‘soldier mode’ talking him through the situation, treating his injury and telling him to put his mind in another place but don’t fall asleep because he in shock.”
The combat veteran quickly removed his own belt, and used it as a torniquet. He wrote the time on Rogers’ forehead.
While applying the improvised torniquet, Engard simultaneously contacted 9-1-1.
“I was shocked to realize that no bystander near the accident had attempted to contact emergency services,” Engard said.
Engard asked on-site bystanders for an apparatus to tighten the belt (as a torniquet,) and firmly secured Rogers’ blood loss.
“I let him [Rogers] know I would need to use the apparatus to tighten the belt,” Engard said. “I told him ‘I am going to turn this three times and it’s going to hurt’ …and it did.”
Engard maintained phone contact and gave directions to paramedics until they arrived, but his job still was incomplete; paramedics also arrived in slight dismay after witnessing the traumatic scene.
“The paramedics arrived and saw his [Rogers] injury and seemed to be just as stunned…threw me a pair of scissors and asked that I cut off his jeans,” Engard said.
Engard seemed to take full control of the scene of the accident, applying a proper torniquet supplied by paramedics.
“I asked how long the helicopter transport would take to arrive and was told 40 minutes,” Engard said. “I knew that wasn’t enough time and urged them, really insisting, they drive him to the hospital right in that moment.”
The paramedics loaded Rogers onto an ambulance, and whisked him to a nearby critical care hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.
Rogers lost four pints of blood and spent three days on life support – but he pulled through.
“He took charge, did everything right …he saved my life, and I couldn’t be more thankful,” Rogers said. “He was the one calm through the whole situation, he took care of me.”
Rogers’ mother, Kisha Beach, has her own reasons to praise Engard.
“I spoke with Engard on the phone and had to fight back my words because everything in me screamed ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’, ” Beach said. “I saw the photos of others just standing, staring, on their phone taking photos, but not him…many of God’s people were there but he [Engard] let God’s-work flow through him and saved the life of my only son.”
According to Engard, he is honored to have served the Hattiesburg community, where he recruits, in a more meaningful and fulfilling way.
“Meeting him outside of the accident was nice, he is a respectful man; if he wasn’t there, I would have died,” Rogers said.
Rogers has reached a point of normalcy post-accident.
“I am in good spirits and recovery has been a piece of cake,” Rogers said. “I was released a week early from physical rehabilitation because I could perform ahead of schedule.”
Rogers, his mother, and Engard plan to have dinner together in the new year, to celebrate their new and unbreakable bond.
– Reported by Jonathan Holloway, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Baton Rouge