Story and photo by Stacie Shain
Warrior Transition Battalion Public Affairs Officer
Jeremy Russeau went from watching “The Hangover” to being run over in a crosswalk on a busy Colorado Springs street Oct. 16.
Fortunately for Russeau, combat lifesaver Sgt. 1st Class Travion Smith, Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion, and his friend, Tech. Sgt. Rodney Reed, Peterson Air Force Base’s 21st Space Wing, were heading north on Academy Boulevard moments after the accident.
“Reed saw something on the road, lying next to the curb and yelled for me to stop,” said Smith. “I swerved then pulled about 30 feet in front of the ‘object.'”
The “object” was Russeau, whose body had been thrown 25 feet from the crosswalk at Chelton Road and Academy Boulevard, where he had been struck. Reed said that he had a gut feeling that what he saw in the road was a person.
“I just thought it had the look of a body,” he said.
Once Smith saw Russeau, he ran back to his vehicle, grabbed his first-aid kit and asked Reed to call 911. As Smith placed a blanket over Russeau and Reed requested an ambulance, both men flagged down another vehicle and asked him to pull in behind Russeau to block traffic.
“Cars were shooting by us,” Smith said. “I was worried we were going to get hit, so we got a car coming in the southbound lane to turn around and pull up right behind us, turn on his flashers and block the traffic.”
With boundaries marked and traffic diverted around the scene, Smith and Reed then turned their attention fully to monitoring Russeau. While Reed answered questions from the emergency dispatcher, Smith tried to keep Russeau warm and conscious.
“He was shaking and we were afraid he was going to go into shock,” Smith said. “He was lying on the cold ground and his body had taken a big hit.”
Police estimate that the car was traveling 40-50 miles per hour when it hit Russeau.
Smith said he kept Russeau talking until paramedics arrived.
“I just wanted to keep him awake, and he kept saying ‘OK, I’m here. I’m still here,'” Smith said.
But Russeau doesn’t even remember meeting Smith and Reed, much less talking to them, until they visited him at his home two days after the accident.
“The last thing I remember is bright lights and then nothing else until I woke up in the ambulance,” Russeau said. “They told me I was talking, but I don’t remember any of it. They told me what happened when I woke up in the ambulance and was spitting out rocks. I was like, ‘How’d that get in my mouth?’ I didn’t feel any pain until I woke up and then everything hurt.”
Russeau was treated and released from the hospital. After he returned home, Russeau’s family wanted to meet and thank the “good Samaritans” who assisted him at the accident scene, working through local TV stations to find them.
Allison Catalano, a friend of Reed, called him the next day and told him that Russeau’s parents were looking for them. Reed and Smith arranged to meet Russeau after work.
“Jeremy’s mom hugged and hugged me,” Smith said.
Russeau called Smith and Brown his heroes.
“Those guys are amazing,” he said. “They stayed right beside me, helped me, called the ambulance, and waited with me until the police and ambulance arrived.
“They probably don’t see themselves as heroes, but they are.”
Russeau’s doctors expect a full recovery, although it may take a while for all the lacerations to heal and the pain to go away.
“I’m a little slow, but I’m walking around OK,” Russeau said. “I’ll have to wait a few weeks before I can go to work.”
For the family, it was no surprise that a Soldier and an Airman were the first people to stop and help Russeau. Both men represent military values such as courage and selfless service, traits the family respects. Randolph Brown, Russeau’s father, is an Army veteran. The family has volunteered with the USO, donating meals for troops. Russeau wants to become a Soldier.
Smith and Reed said they didn’t do anything special or extraordinary. Both men, however, are shocked that no one else along that busy street had stopped to help before they did.
“I can’t believe that no one else stopped,” Smith said. “There are six lanes on Academy Boulevard. We blocked one to protect Jeremy, but cars in the other five just kept on going. There’s no way to know how many cars blew right on by him while he was on the road.”
Russeau, Smith and Reed agree that they’ve forged lifelong friendships.
“I’ll most definitely keep in touch,” Russeau said. “I’ll always keep them on MySpace and Facebook.”