Six Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 and the 31st Seabee Readiness Group (SRG) saved a family involved in a disastrous wreck on Highway 101, Buellton, Calif., Jan. 12.
Equipment Operator 1st Class (SCW) Frankie Cruz, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class (SCW) Michael McCracken and Equipment Operator Constructionman Clinton Roberts from NMCB 3, along with Construction Mechanic 2nd Class (SCW) Shawn Legg, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class (SCW) Benjamin Mead and Construction Mechanic 3rd Class (SCW) James Winters from the 31st SRG, saved the family by operating a forklift to keep the wrecked vehicle from sliding off the bridge while rescue crews extracted the mother and her two young daughters.
“As the fire department was cutting the car to get the family out it kept on slipping over the bridge and faced a 100 foot fall,” said CM2 McCracken, the forklift operator. “I talked to the fire captain in charge and he was excited to hear that we had an extendable-boom forklift just 200 to 300 feet behind the wreck, and he said to go get it.”
“They [the Seabees] came up, they all got out and wanted to know if they could help maybe with traffic or something else,” said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Danny Maher, on the scene of the accident during an interview with news station KCOY 12. “They had a large forklift…and we were able to…have them use [it to]…support the BMW as it was teetering on the side of the bridge…they supported the BMW so the fire department could get in and extricate the parties.”
The forklift was being transported back from Fort Hunter Liggett where NMCB 3 had finished a pre-deployment certification exercise in mid-December.
After the Seabees stabilized the car with the forklift, the rescue crews extracted the mother and her two children with the Jaws of Life.
“The mom and two children are all alive and we had a hand in it,” said McCracken. “That is the biggest thing that I got out of it”
During the interview, Officer Maher said that the family can thank the quick work of U.S. Navy Seabees who were traveling back to their base at Port Hueneme when they came upon the accident.
“We were just in the right place at the right time,” said McCracken.