Massachusetts soldiers on a training exercise rescued an elderly woman who had been trapped for several days in a hot car, WCVB (Boston) is reporting.
Staff Sgt. Dana Francis, of G Co. 186th Brigade Support Battalion, and Sgt. Tommy Coppola, both civilian firefighters and both members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, have been conducting training exercises out of New Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst this week.
On Monday, while training in the thick woods, the soldiers came upon a disturbing sight: a car stuck in soft sand. The vehicle, identified by the Boston Herald as a Cadillac, had somehow gotten off of a nearby road and onto a tank trail. Inside, the soldiers could see what looked like a person in the back seat. Sgt. Francis says that, at first, the soldiers were apprehensive.
“At first we didn’t know what to think of it because it was suspicious.”
The car had all of its windows rolled down and a sunshade covering the front window. As they approached the vehicle, they spotted the elderly woman slumped in the back seat. Francis said that he called to her, but she was “unresponsive,” according to a post on the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s Facebook page.
“We knew she was breathing.”
The soldiers were concerned about waking up the distressed woman, especially since they lacked any medical equipment. They found some medics nearby: Spc. John Shively and Pfc. Aaron Amardey-Wellington, of the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment.
Coppola approached the vehicle again and found her starting to wake up. At first, she was confused and was unable to explain how she’d wound up where she was. They loaded her into a military ambulance and gave her oxygen and water, and as she came to her senses, she was able to explain at least part of her story.
It turns out that the woman had somehow gotten off the main road and became stuck in the soft sand. She had been stuck there for four days — since Saturday morning — with no food, and with temperatures at times reaching as high as 100 degrees. She had subsisted on rainwater she collected from passing thunderstorms.
She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital to be treated for dehydration and possible heat-related illnesses.
As of this writing, authorities are not releasing much information about the elderly woman, beyond saying that she is 87-years-old. Her name has not been made public, and it is not clear if family members have been made aware of her plight. Fox News reports that her condition “has improved significantly.” It also remains unclear how she got off the highway and onto a tank trail on a military base.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey M. Holloway, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, said that the elderly woman was fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.
“It was by chance that the contact team was traveling down this remote tank trail and came across the elderly woman.”
Holloway also said that the soldiers’ actions that day represent the best ideals of what being a serviceman or servicewoman is all about.
“Their response and quick action are just another example of what being a Citizen-Soldier is about. Those four individuals did the right thing,” Holloway said. “They immediately knew what to do. I’m extremely proud of these great Soldiers.”
[Photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Littlefield/Massachusetts Army National Guard/AP Images]