Due in large part to their quick thinking and quicker action, three Evansville police officers are being credited for giving a crash victim a chance at survival. On Sunday, a motorcyclist was seriously injured after a car turned in front of him at the intersection of Highway 41 and Riverside Drive. Despite the chaotic environment, the three officers were able to place three tourniquets on the bleeding victim.
If not for their actions, the motorcyclist could have died on the pavement, police said.
“There was a two officer car that was near the intersection that actually witnessed the accident,” said Sgt. Jason Cullum.
Officers Kyle Thiry and Peter DeYoung witnessed the accident and immediately began to render first aid. Officer Matt Taylor arrived not long after and assisted as well. The motorcyclist — who had the right of way — was heading north on Highway 41 when another car tried to turn left on eastbound Riverside Drive, police said.
The motorcyclist couldn’t react in time.
The impact of the crash launched the motorcyclist forward with tremendous force. With deep lacerations to his legs and feet, he was bleeding profusely, police said. The officers had just seconds to spare.
“The injuries were very significant,” Sgt. Cullum said. “With the amount of blood loss at the scene [Sunday], had [the officers] not gotten the bleeding stopped with the use of tourniquets, the rider would have probably died at the scene.”
Officers Thirty, DeYoung and Taylor remained calm amidst the chaos, carefully but efficiently applying three tourniquets to the victims legs. By temporarily stopping the bleeding, it bought precious time for paramedics to arrive.
The situation was eerily similar to another incident that happened in June 2013. Officers Thirty and DeYoung, who often travel in a two-man car, responded to a young girl being hit by a car on Washington Avenue.
When they arrived, Officer Thiry went to the six-year-old girl and saw that she was bleeding severely because of an open fracture. It was later learned that the broken bone in her arm severed two arteries.
She survived because the officers wrapped the wound in a tourniquet.
A day after the crash, department brass reviewed the officer’s graphic, dramatic and gut-wrenching body camera video of Sunday’s incident. Just before paramedics arrived, there was a profound moment of compassion.
“In all the chaos, one of our officers asked the motorcycle rider if it’d be okay if he prayed for him,” Sgt. Cullum said. “In the middle of the chaos, the compassion that was displayed by one of our officers, I can’t even describe it. I don’t have the right words.”
“Not only are they doing what they are trained to do, they are going beyond that. That simple gesture… if that was my family member that was injured, that would mean the world to me.”
The officers didn’t stop after applying the tourniquets. After the victim was loaded onto the ambulance, the officers followed him to the hospital and even spent time in the operating room while doctors and nurses assessed the victim’s serious injuries.
“Our job is much more than just writing tickets and taking people to jail. That’s a small part of what we do in serving the community,” Sgt. Cullum said. “It’s clear that we have officers that know and understand that.”
The officers may downplay their actions on Sunday and chalk it up to ‘just doing their jobs.’ But, in this case, it’s also how they did their jobs.