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Seabees helped save man trapped in sinking car in icy creek

Equipment Operator Constructionman Daniel Sellmeyer, right, is awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal by Cmdr. Lance Flood, Commanding Officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 on December 15, 2017 at Gulfport, Miss.

ALEXA TRAFTON/U.S. NAVY

By MATT CAMPBELL | The Kansas City Star | Published: January 5, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Tribune News Service) — Daniel Sellmeyer’s experience as an EMT paid off when he helped rescue a man who was trapped in a car sinking into a frigid creek.

The Overland Park man, now a Seabee assigned to a Navy base in Gulfport, Miss., and another sailor were taking a fuel truck up to Hattiesburg on Interstate 49 in unusually icy conditions on Dec. 8.

At one point they had to maneuver the truck into the median to avoid a collision with a vehicle ahead of them. That driver had slammed on his brakes.

“Over the hum of the running truck we all of a sudden heard tires screeching,” Sellmeyer said in an account released by the Navy. “And just like that we heard a crash and saw the vehicle … go into an embankment and then into a creek.”

As the car began to flood, the Seabees took action.

Equipment Operator Cristian Benton of Edmond, Okla., ran in to the chest-deep water. Sellmeyer noticed the car’s battery had been ejected in the wreck and yelled to Benton to use it to break the window to reach the driver.

After the man was pulled to safety, Sellmeyer examined him for injuries.

“Prior to the military I was an emergency medical technician,” Sellmeyer said. “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.”

The sailors brought the man into their truck cab to warm him up. They called emergency services and the man’s family.

“We got lucky,” Sellmeyer said. “I hate to think what would have happened to this man had we not been there. We were just in the right place at the right time, with the right set of skills.”

The two sailors were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

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