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HEIDELBERG, Germany — The toy run was over. The Harley Davidson riders and other motorcycle enthusiasts who’d bought toys for children with cancer, then ridden their bikes in a 45-minute loop around the small towns and by-ways near Heidelberg, were relaxing at the Rod and Gun Club.

One of them, a 29-year-old DynCorp worker from Wiesbaden, took the opportunity to try out a friend’s racing bike. He didn’t get far.

Just a few minutes after he’d roared out of the club parking lot and not returned from what was supposed to be a very short ride last Saturday afternoon, a friend went looking for him. He was found lying seriously injured in the bushes off the side of the road. The friend drove the few hundred yards back to the Rod and Gun Club and yelled for help.

Staff Sgt. Sean Carrier knew what to do.

“In 14 years in the Army, you learn your eight steps for checking a casualty,” Carrier said.

Carrier, 34, got on his Harley and was soon checking the man, whose name was not released by authorities. He looked bad, Carrier thought.

There were the red dots on his chest that indicated puncture wounds and an apparently crushed rib cage, a mound of vomit on the dirt that signified a collapsed lung, and blood coming out of his mouth, which meant internal injuries. “His eyes were rolling around a lot,” Carrier said. “He was in a lot of pain.”

Carrier rolled him onto his side to help his breathing and raised his legs to try to prevent him from going into shock.

“I told him, ‘You need to grunt or something so I know you’re with me.’”

He called for an ambulance, coordinated with German police, directed traffic and even helped signal the medical evacuation helicopter where to land — in the field without the electrical wires.

“Because of Staff Sgt. Carrier’s quick action and level head, he was able to not only render first aid but control the area until emergency crews arrived,” said a witness who declined to be named in a statement to police. “He correctly assessed the situation, secured the scene and handled the accident victim with the utmost human compassion I have witnessed in many years.”

“These guys kept on thanking me,” Carrier said. “I said, ‘No, don’t thank me.’”

For Carrier, it was sort of all in a day’s work.

Carrier deployed to Iraq in 2005. A truck driver by trade, he volunteered to train and live with an Iraqi Army battalion. Some day, he said, he plans to write a book about it, but for now he simply says it was “an adventure.”

“Sergeant Carrier is definitely one of the top-notch NCOs (non-commissioned officers) in our company,” said Capt. Joshua Kerton, commander of the 51st Transportation Company. “I was not surprised to hear that Sergeant Carrier was able to do all that. To hear he’d reacted like that — it just shows kind of how American soldiers are right now.”

Asked why he thinks the civilian crashed, Carrier points to the long, black skid marks still on the road, the curve up ahead the civilian never got to, and the fact that the Yamaha racing bike the civilian was borrowing is sometimes called a “crotch rocket” because the rider is basically sitting atop the gas tank.

Heidelberg police reported that the road was a 30-km zone and they assumed the rider was speeding. “As result, he lost control of the bike and hit a tree, sustaining severe injuries,” according to a U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg spokesman.

The civilian was taken to a trauma hospital in Ludwigshafen, and was reportedly still there but out of intensive care on Wednesday.

The whole thing left Carrier a bit unsettled, he had to admit.

“I really drove slow that day going home,” he said.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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