Local News

Virginia nurse helps save injured Cary officer

Posted July 17, 2011

— A Virginia nurse said she believes that God put her in the right place and time to help a Cary police officer injured in a motorcycle wreck late Friday afternoon.

Jessica Elliot, 37, of Lynchburg, Va., said she saw a Dodge pickup truck make a left turn in front of Senior Officer Chad Penland's motorcycle as he tried to make a traffic stop on N.C. Highway 55, near Morrisville-Carpenter Road.

Elliot watched in horror as Penland hit the truck face-first and went flying through the air before landing hard.

"It all happened very quickly, but it was like in slow motion," she said.

But her training as a registered nurse quickly kicked in. She stopped, made sure her 2-year-old daughter was secured in the car and ran to help.

"When I saw what happened to the gentleman, I did not expect him to be alive," Elliot said. "There was no walking away from that. I mean, he needed me."

Others passersby stopped to help as well, and Elliot said she took command of the situation. She directed other people to make their shirts into tourniquets, while concentrating on Penland's most urgent needs.

Penland, 32, stayed conscious the whole time but was in a lot of pain, Elliot said.   Virginia nurse finds purpose in helping save injured Cary officer Virginia nurse helps save injured Cary officer

"His biggest problem was he couldn't breathe very well, with his jaw dislocated and disconnected," she said. "He didn't have much of an airway, so I was holding his head in a way that he could breathe."

Emergency medical workers arrived in minutes, Elliot said, and took Penland to Duke University Hospital. Authorities said he suffered multiple broken bones and is expected to recover.

Troopers said the pickup driver, Benjamin Rainey, 72, of Cary, wasn't injured. He was charged with failing to yield the right of way.

Elliot said she was making a regular visit to family in Cary, and on those trips, she usually takes Interstate 40. On Friday, though, she knew she'd be dealing with rush hour traffic, so she took N.C. 55.

Elliot said that God had a purpose for her to be in that place at that time and that helping save the officer's life gives meaning to all the medical training she's had.


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  • chilipeppernc Jul 19, 2011

    I don't believe in the imaginary. My opinion HAS been through the "wood chipper". It is called science.

  • MikeTysonsPunchOut Jul 19, 2011

    I wouldn't know whether she was put there by 'her god', or whether it was 'your god' - aka coincidence...I guess we'll never really know which one it was. My question to you is, why do you feel so vehemently opposed to the idea of the former? I wonder if you put your own beliefs through the same wood chipper you put other people's beliefs through? To say it was coincidence is to do the exact same thing you seem to criticize others for doing...making assertions of what is true and what is not.

    I'm glad she was there. I hope the officer makes a speedy recovery.

  • Lyle2 Jul 18, 2011

    fl2nc, care to elaborate on what you deem "ignorant" comments? Just those you disagree with, or....?

  • luv2surffish2 Jul 18, 2011

    old news remove it

  • 2323 Jul 18, 2011

    That is an awesome story! Good for her, and obviously for him, too.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Jul 18, 2011

    Wow, the ignorance of some of the comments here are both astounding and sad...

    Glad the officer will be ok and that the nurse was there to help.

  • justjean Jul 18, 2011

    God, divine intervention and spaghetti monsters aside, I'm glad to hear that the officer is going to recover and that this lady was there to help. FYI, if you ever stop to render assistance to someone who has been in a motorcycle accident, if their helmet is still on their head, please DO NOT remove it, unless not doing so would cause their death.

  • timbo10.0 Jul 18, 2011

    "Timbo, Lyle, and Haggis, that was a very rude comment about MY God. Yes, its MY God you speak of. He's also the God of most posters on GOLO."

    Huh? It's a free country. I can speak about any "god" I want to.

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 18, 2011

    "Well we already know that the civilian is going to be found at fault. After all, the police can do no wrong and are above the law. Especially in Cary." mrlee34

    A typical comment from Friday's article. How silly it that comment now? I'm glad the nurse was there regardless of the reason.

  • Common Sense Man Jul 18, 2011

    "Glad she was there. But on a second note, I am 72, never had an accident, never had a speeding ticket and never been stopped by any law enfocement officer. So please dont pass judgment on people. That guy could just as easily been a different age. You need to know his driving record before you jump to conclusions. Age of the driver has very little to do with having an accident unless there are other impairments. I guess you havent noticed the thousands of people who drive and talk on the cell phone! They are more of a danger on the road.
    July 18, 2011 9:19 a.m."

    Well yeah, there's an exception to every rule, and obviously Superman knows how to drive.