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Home : News
NEWS | Dec. 5, 2022

Indiana Air Guardsmen Help Car Accident Victims

By 2nd Lt. Jonathan Padish and Master Sgt. Roland Sturm, 181st Intelligence Wing Public Affairs

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Two Indiana National Guard Airmen from the 181st Intelligence Wing provided critical care following a rollover vehicle incident that resulted in two people being trapped upside-down in their truck.

Staff Sgt. Marlena Hargraves and Senior Airman Janelle Bonitati were traveling home at the end of the duty day Dec. 3 when they saw smoke rising from the incident scene and rushed to assist.

Hargraves, a civilian cardiopulmonary technician and member of the medical element of Indiana’s 19th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package, arrived at the scene and saw the driver and passenger were trapped inside the vehicle.

Hargraves and another bystander broke the driver-side window, entered the vehicle and cut the seatbelts for both people inside the truck. She extracted the driver from the vehicle and returned to rest the passenger down flat inside the vehicle.

Meanwhile, Bonitati, a civilian paramedic and member of the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron, arrived and noticed the passenger’s hand was seriously injured.

Bonitati helped wrap the passenger’s hand in a towel and applied pressure to control bleeding. Once first responders arrived, she brought extraction blankets to the vehicle and applied cervical collars to the driver and passenger.

Hargraves and Bonitati helped the first responders extract the passenger from the vehicle and remained at the scene for more than half an hour until the first responders loaded the passenger into a medical helicopter.

Despite the hectic scene, the Airmen relied on their training and civilian experience to render aid.

“What I really know about stopping bleeding was from the military,” said Hargraves. “I felt like there were a few people standing around, but nobody had done anything to help. I’m one of those people who want to help.”

The Airmen also credited the 181st IW with instilling a sense of willingness to respond to a crisis.

“We did something that anybody in this unit would do,” said Hargraves. “That’s key, because I think if anyone [from the 181st IW] was out there they would have done the exact same thing.”

Still, the Airmen were recognized for their efforts.

“It takes a lot of courage to stop in the first place,” said Lt. Col. Laura Flood, the 19th CERFP Detachment 1 medical element commander and nurse with the 181st Medical Group. “[Hargraves and Bonitati] didn’t really know each other, but they came together like a team. It’s very heroic.”