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Sailor from Edmond helps save a life after icy conditions causes another man to crash into creek

Equipment Operator 3rd Class Cristian Benton 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 on board Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi. Benton, from Edmond, Oklahoma, received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for actions taken to rescue a civilian involved in a car accident on Highway 49 in Hattiesburg Mississippi. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Alexa Trafton).

GULFPORT, Miss. – A Sailor from Edmond helped save a life after icy conditions caused another man to drive off the road and crash into a creek.

On December 8, 2017, two Sailors assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 helped rescue a man involved in a car accident on Highway 49 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the Navy reports.

Earlier that morning, Equipment Operator 3rd Class Cristian Benton, from Edmond, Oklahoma, and Equipment Operator Constructionman Daniel Sellmeyer, from Overland Park, Kansas, received orders to take a fuel truck up to Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to refuel a convoy scheduled return to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi, later that afternoon.

“We got to work, and at our morning muster the group was asked who had the ability to drive the fuel truck up to Camp,” said Benton. “I volunteered and picked Sellmeyer to go with me. We were told to be cautious with the worsening road conditions and to drive up as safely as possible and to return in the same manner.”

At the time, southern Mississippi was experiencing a freeze and some unusual weather, which resulting in the Gulf Coast seeing snow for the first time in several years.

While driving on Highway 49 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the two Sailors heard a crash.

“Over the hum of the running truck we all of a sudden heard tires screeching,” said Sellmeyer. “And just like that we heard a crash and saw the vehicle, with a passenger inside, go into an embankment and then into a creek.”

The two Sailors immediately jumped into action upon seeing the car crash into the creek and start filling up with water.

According to the Navy, Benton went running into the water that was approximately chest deep to check on driver. The conscious driver was unable to extract himself from car that was being overcome with water. Benton searched for something to break a window when his attention was drawn to a car battery that had been ejected during the crash.

“I heard Sellmeyer yelling ‘Hey! Use the battery!’ I saw it just lying there” said Benton. “I ran up, grabbed it and used it to smash the window and get to the driver. Things were just happening so quickly.”

After the driver was pulled to safety, Sellmeyer began to examine him for further injuries.

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

After they had examined the driver, Benton and Sellmeyer brought him up to the cabin of the fuel truck to warm him up, and call emergency services and his family members.

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