CHS students hailed as heroes - Republic-Times | News

CHS students hailed as heroes

By on March 7, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Pictured, from left, are Columbia High School students Ben Williams, Bryce Vogt and Tyler Nelson. (Sean McGowan photo)

Three Columbia High School students were out on the golf course at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis on an unseasonably warm January day when they heard the noise.

Tyler Nelson and Ben Williams work at the club and had invited their friend, Bryce Vogt, out for a game of golf. Little did they know it would put them in a position to come to the aid of complete strangers.

“I was going to get my ball. It was just the second hole, and I heard a loud noise and looked and saw the cars and smoke,” Bryce said. “I ran over to see what was going on. I thought it was just a fender-bender.”

According to a crash report released by the Country Club Hills (Mo.) Police Department, which handled the accident, emergency personnel responded to a three-vehicle crash at 3:11 p.m. Jan. 27 on Lucas and Hunt Road at Eunice Avenue.

The three teens had made it over before emergency personnel responded to the scene.

“We just stood down there to see what happened, and then a guy ran over saying people needed help,” Ben said.

Not a single person in the group showed hesitation.

“They were yelling they needed help to get out. Tyler went down and we followed,” Bryce said.

That’s when they saw a pregnant woman whom they say had been a passenger ejected from a vehicle that ended up in a ditch. On the official report, it states that it is unknown whether she was ejected.

Bryce found the woman wrapped around a fence and worked to free her with one other bystander who showed up to help. In the meantime, Tyler was pulling people out of the vehicles who couldn’t get out on their own.

“We made a human ladder and held onto each other to pull them out,” Ben said of the effort to rescue the people from the ditch.

Tyler said it was after they performed their act of heroism that emergency personnel arrived at the scene.

“Once every car was out, we were sitting on the sidewalk waiting for the paramedics,” he said.

Country Club Hills police, the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District, and Christian Hospital Ambulance Service responded to the crash. The vehicles involved were a 2017 Dodge Journey, a 1992 GM pickup truck, and a 2015 Chevy Impala.

The police report states the Journey was heading north on Lucas and Hunt Road in the southbound turn lane to pass some vehicles in the northbound lane. While in the turn lane, the driver of the Journey noticed a vehicle driving toward him in the turn lane but could not merge back into his lane.

He swerved into the southbound lanes to avoid the vehicle in the turn lane. The driver then struck the GM and the Impala before veering off the road into a ditch. The driver of the GM required extrication due to his injuries and was transported to Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He was partially ejected from the vehicle.

The pregnant passenger in the Dodge Journey was immediately transported to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for treatment of injuries, and the baby was miscarried as a result of the accident.

The driver of the Journey and both passengers in the Impala were transported for injuries as well. All of those involved in the accident are St. Louis residents.

Hearing how the events unfolded, CHS principal Brian Reeves praised the students for showing courage.

“I’m extremely proud that students put others first and get involved. They show what needed to be done and stepped up,” he said.

Following the incident, the Columbia teens couldn’t shake the feelings of adrenaline and compassion for the people involved.

“We attempted to play golf but had a lot on our minds so we went home and washed the blood off our hands,” Bryce said.

Ben agreed that the experience had shaken him up a bit.

“It was kind of scary,” he said.

Still, the friends all nodded when asked if they would do the same in a similar situation.

“It was just like an instinct,” Tyler said.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.