A pair of TSA officers from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) turned into instant heroes while on their way home from work.
An elderly woman flipped her SUV on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island and was trapped inside the wreckage.
Supervisory TSA Officer (STSO) Richard White approached the crash site, immediately pulled over and ran to the car to help. Seconds later, TSA Officer (TSO) Shelly Myers also arrived on the scene and raced to the vehicle to assist.
White and Myers teamed up to pull the woman out of her Honda CR-V and walked her to the side of the road so she could lie down while they called 911.
“I was driving in the left lane when, over to my right, I saw a car flip over twice,” White recalled. “Never saw anything like that before. I knew I had to stop to make sure whoever was inside was OK.”
It happened about 10 miles from JFK.
“When I stopped to help, it was only me, TSO Myers and another driver who pulled over,” said White. “All I could think when I saw the car flip over was, ‘I couldn’t believe there was a person inside the vehicle experiencing what I saw.’”
Myers said the crash was scary, and her first thought, like White’s, was the accident victim’s well-being.
“Rich was already getting the woman out of her vehicle; I helped prevent her from falling out of the (SUV),” said Myers. “After we got her to the side of the road, I got her a water from my car and tried to keep her conscious until medics arrived. I kept talking to her, telling her medics were on the way.”
White said he was relieved when he saw another person stop to help, was pleasantly surprised to see it was Myers and was proud of her for lending a helping hand.
“Considering that nobody else really stopped to assist, I assume the other driver would have been able to get the woman out, but (getting her out) would have been much more difficult,” assessed White. “As I pulled her out of the car, she couldn’t lift her head. When TSO Myers and I walked her to the side of the road, (the woman) kept saying, ‘I just need to lay down. I just need to lay down.’”
Neither White nor Myers have any formal emergency training, but both relied on their instincts to get the accident victim the help she needed.
“I am very proud these officers immediately stopped to aid the injured motorist, disregarding their own risk of injury,” said JFK TSA Federal Security Director John Essig. “These are two dedicated officers who are living a life of serving their community, both while at work and home.”
Essig called White and Myers heroes.
“Most people would have just driven by, assuming someone else would help,” Essig added. “STSO White and TSO Myers, driving separately, both knew it was their responsibility to act and save the motorist. These officers saw this woman needed immediate help and sprang into action. Their actions are a clear demonstration of the caliber of our officers, of all ranks, and we are fortunate to have them at John F. Kennedy International Airport.”
“I just knew I needed to help,” Myers noted. “It wasn’t even a second thought to me, helping someone in need. No hesitation. I would tell other TSA officers to help when they witness a situation like I did. Be the good the world needs.”
When asked what he would tell others who might find themselves in an emergency situation like this, White said, “Go with your gut. Do what you feel is right. Always ask for assistance and make sure you wait for paramedics to arrive as they may want a statement from you. I feel I did what any decent person should have done – make sure the person was OK.”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs