Story by MC3 Class Alexa Trafton, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 Public Affairs
GULFPORT, Miss. – Two Sailors assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 helped to rescue a civilian involved in a car accident on Highway 49 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Dec. 8, 2017.
Earlier that morning, Equipment Operator 3rd Class Cristian Benton, from Edmond, Oklahoma, and Equipment Operator Constructionman Daniel Sellmeyer, from Overland Park, Kansas, received orders to take a fuel truck up to Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to refuel a convoy scheduled return to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi, later that afternoon.
“We got to work, and at our morning muster the group was asked who had the ability to drive the fuel truck up to Camp,” said Benton. “I volunteered and picked Sellmeyer to go with me. We were told to be cautious with the worsening road conditions and to drive up as safely as possible and to return in the same manner.”
Southern Mississippi at the time was experiencing a freeze warning and unusual weather which resulted in the Gulf Coast seeing snow for the first time in several years.
While driving north on Highway 49, Benton and Sellmeyer maneuvered in the icy conditions into the median to avoid a potential accident with a car traveling ahead of them. While attempting to return the truck back into the flow of traffic, an unusual sound roared over the ambient noise of the truck and traffic.
“Over the hum of the running truck we all of a sudden heard tires screeching,” said Sellmeyer. “And just like that we heard a crash and saw the vehicle, with a passenger inside, go into an embankment and then into a creek.”
As the car settled into the creek, and began flooding, the Seabees took action. Benton went running into the water that was approximately chest deep to check on driver. The conscious driver was unable to extract himself from car that was being overcome with water. Benton searched for something to break a window when his attention was drawn to a car battery that had been ejected during the crash.
“I heard Sellmeyer yelling ‘Hey! Use the battery!’ I saw it just lying there” said Benton. “I ran up, grabbed it and used it to smash the window and get to the driver. Things were just happening so quickly.”
After the driver was pulled to safety, Sellmeyer began to examine him for further injuries.
“Prior to joining the military, I was an emergency medical technician,” said Sellmeyer. “Something I never thought would come in handy here, but to my surprise I found myself in a situation using my knowledge and experiences to help save a life.”
After they had examined the driver, Benton and Sellmeyer brought him up to the cabin of the fuel truck to warm him up, and call emergency services and his family members.
“We got lucky, I hate to think what would have happened to this man had we not been there,” said Sellmeyer. “We were just in the right place at the right time, with the right set of skills.”
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb1/.