One of the last types of people you’d expect to help out injured victims after a violent car crash would be prison inmates, especially if that crash allowed them an opportunity to taste freedom. But a group of prison inmates from Arizona chose to act selflessly while others were in distress when their prison bus crashed into a semi.
According to the Huffington Post, a Department of Corrections vehicle was transporting about 50 prison inmates back from a work site on Tuesday when the bus driver crashed into an overturned semitrailer on I-8 near Phoenix. The bus driver and many of the inmates were injured in the bus crash, and several had to be airlifted out of the accident scene and off to hospitals. However, most of the prison inmates remained injured and stayed at the scene of the accident to help those who had been hurt.
There were about 30 prisoners directing traffic, laying down flares, and providing assistance to the wounded. Sgt. Josh Wilhelm from the Department of Public Safety told the Associated Press that he never expected prison inmates to be so quick to lend a helping hand when they could have been making a break for it.
“Everybody’s seen the movies and I thought, ‘Oh no, I’m gonna have inmates scatter and we’re gonna have 50 fugitives,” said Wilhelm. “That was not the case.”
The prison inmates were heading back to Lewis Prison in Buckeye, where they are being held under minimum security. All of them are serving prison terms of less than five years for crimes like DUI and theft.
Every single prisoner was accounted for after the bus crash, according to Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux. He, too, was surprised by the charity of the prison inmates. Their short sentences might explain their willingness to help, but it does not discount the kindness of the act. In fact, Lamoreaux hopes this brief moment of community service is evidence that the prison inmates are being successfully rehabilitated.
“It’s always heartwarming to see anyone jump in when assistance is needed,” said Lamoreaux. “I think the programming, the work, the education, all the different opportunities we provide — hopefully it sinks in.”
Authorities are still unsure why the bus driver was unable to avoid the semi truck on the highway and will investigate further when his condition has improved.
For more stories about positive results from prison inmates, read about the calming effect pets can have on prisoners.
[Image credit: Tom Tingle / The Republic]