Bragg soldier pulls three from fiery wreckage after Chatham crash
Posted May 19, 2015
Cary, N.C. — A Fort Bragg soldier is being hailed as a hero for rescuing three people after a weekend collision in eastern Chatham County.
A car and an SUV collided on O'Kelly Chapel Road near Cary on Sunday afternoon when, according to the State Highway Patrol, the SUV driver tried to pass another vehicle.
"I heard the giant explosion. It sounded bad. I got on 911 immediately without even seeing it," said John Spurrell, who was working in his backyard at the time.
By the time Spurrell ran to the road, he saw the front of the car smashed in and flames erupting from the SUV, which was on its side. He also saw a man in a Captain America T-shirt running into the fire to drag the SUV driver to safety.
Army Capt. Steve Voglezon was off duty and on his way to a shopping mall when he came upon the crash. Even though he has only basic first aid training, the missile defense officer said his instincts kicked in as he pulled the driver out by his belt and, together with three other people, carried him away from the wreckage.
"I took an oath to help serve the United States, foreign and domestic, so when I was there, I realized that I was the only one there at the time who could help. So, I ran toward it to see what I could do," Voglezon said Tuesday at Fort Bragg. "I didn't even think. I just reacted."
He said he grabbed the man's torso, two other people took his legs, and they carried him about a hundred yards from the crash site. The man had an open wound on his ankle, so Voglezon put a tourniquet on his calf before heading back to check on the people in the car.
"YYou go and you do what you need to do to help, you know?" Spurrell said. "Steve, a big strong guy, he was incredible. He gave us courage to get into there."
Voglezon and a Chatham County deputy tried unsuccessfully to pry the car's doors open. Nearby residents brought out fire extinguishers to keep the flames from the SUV in check until firefighters arrived, and Voglezon and the deputy used the extinguishers to smash the car's windows to get inside.
"It was hot. I had a hard time seeing. I couldn't breathe very well either," he said. "I knew for a fact that I had to get the person out of the car, so that was my main focus."
They pulled a man from the driver's seat but had more trouble getting to the woman in the passenger's seat.
The SUV driver, Mark Ricketts, 59, and the car's occupants, William Thompson, 67, and his wife, Kathleen Thompson, 63, are all being treated at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
Spurrell said he considers Voglezon a hero, but the soldier downplayed his actions, noting he was merely one of several people trying to help. Police officers, firefighters and first responders take similar actions every day, he said.
"I just happened to be there with a camera rolling," he said.