PSO officers respond to unexpected car accident

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

On June 12, before the break of dawn, members of U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command’s Protective Service detail, Tommy Carter and Dan Pearson, came across a car accident that required their immediate response and tested their readiness.

The morning started like any other, Carter and Pearson were driving their usual route to pick up the general, when their ordinary morning took a sudden and drastic turn. 

“The visibility was significantly reduced due to the absence of sunlight and inclement weather,” Carter said. “Despite these challenging conditions, we were able to gather sufficient details about the incident given the close proximity of the victim's vehicle to ours.”

After the vehicle rolled several times, it collided with several poles and median signs before coming to a complete stop on the shoulder lane, facing east and partially on the grass.

“I immediately threw it into park and hit the police lights after I drove up to the car on the opposite lane to block traffic,” Pearson said. “[Carter] was already getting on the phone to call emergency services. We both jumped out, I ran over to start helping.”

Swiftly shifting from protectors to rescuers, they rushed toward the wreckage they found a young soldier, still in his Army physical training gear. Despite the stressful situation, the officers’ focus remained steadfast. 

Upon inspecting the scene, they said it became evident that several vehicles had succumbed to the conditions of the washed-out road, causing them to lose control. At least three of these out-of-control vehicles were moving towards their direction, heightening the imminent danger of the accident.

“There was no discussion about what we were going to do,” Carter said. “[Pearson] ran to the individual as I grabbed my phone to call 911.”

The chaos of the scene was immediate, with the soldier's equipment and car parts scattered around, making it difficult for Pearson to open the car door initially. However, he was able to pry it open and began communicating with the individual, who was bleeding but didn’t appear to have any life-threatening injuries, he said. 

Meanwhile, Carter worked with emergency services. After assessing the individual, Pearson started directing traffic to prevent further accidents. The soldier involved in the crash didn’t seem to be speeding, Pearson said, suggesting the hazardous road condition was a contributing factor.

“We're both well trained in the sense of priorities of work,” Pearson said, when reflecting on their immediate reaction to the incident. The PSO team at USSPACECOM is a close-knit group, he continued, and the training and teamwork were critical components in their swift and efficient response.

“Once we stabilized the individual and assured him that help was on the way, [Pearson] assumed the responsibility of directing traffic to prevent any potential, particularly due to the hazardous road conditions caused by heavy rainfall,” Carter said. 

At the same time, Carter continued to monitor the individual's condition to ensure their stability did not deteriorate further. 

“Our primary mission was to administer aid to the injured individual, contact emergency services and ensued the safety of other motorists driving down the washed-out road,” Carter said. “Once the local law enforcement arrived, we exchange information with the on-scene commander and was able to depart.”

Pearson and Carter returned to their duties, heading back on the road to pick up Dickinson. The general, upon learning of the incident, expressed his appreciation for their timely intervention.

Once they had tended to the situation, Pearson and Carter resumed their duties and headed back on the road to pick up Dickinson, both crediting their training to kicking in during the critical moments. 

“Training and then teamwork – it might sound cliché, but [Carter] and I work together a lot. We've done drills on what to do in certain scenarios. We're in tune with each other.” 

Fortunately, Pearson added, despite being prepared to administer more serious first aid, the situation didn't require it. 

"Thankfully he was OK for the most part,” he said, adding the soldier was mainly disoriented. “But I had confidence in my ability to do what I needed to do in case more had happened.”