HELENA, Ala. (WIAT) — Around four o’clock on Sunday afternoon on Hwy. 17 in Helena, police say a black F-150 suddenly swerved off the highway and was involved in a single vehicle accident. Investigators say it went down an embankment, crashed through a fence and came to rest about 75 yards out in a pasture.
Billy McCormick lives next to the scene of the wreck.
“I heard tires start squealing. I heard another set of tires. And then I heard a big thump. By the time I get up out of my chair and go to the door and look the police were already there because I could see their blue lights,” said McCormick.
At some point during the wreck police say the 62-year-old driver’s arm was severed.
“Honestly we’re not 100% sure what severed his limb, but something in that brush line or that fence line did so,” said Chief Pete Folmar, Helena Police Department.
Responding Helena Police Sgt. Charles Hudson says it was clear that every second mattered.
“There was a considerable amount of blood in the vehicle and on the outside of it. And he was still bleeding pretty good when I got there,” said Hudson.
“Just as I was getting to him and I could see the severed arm I went ahead and started unstrapping the tourniquet off my belt.”
According to Chief Folmar the department put the tourniquets in service about two weeks prior to the wreck.
“There really is no alternative to this. And in this particular case I can’t say for certain that this gentleman would have bled out if not for the application of that, but I think it’s pretty much everybody’s opinion that that’s highly likely,” said Folmar.
“Mostly I feel very thankful. I’m thankful that the council and the mayor saw fit to outfit us with these things. I’m thankful that Lt. Flynn took the time and put together a good training program for our guys, and I’m thankful that Charlie was on scene in time to do something that probably saved this gentleman’s life,” he continued.
Sergeant Hudson says he was just doing his job.
“I don’t really feel like what I did was any more special than what anybody else could have done. You know I didn’t have, really any different training than any of the other officers here. I just happened to be the one that got there first,” said Hudson.
Helena Police say an off-duty EMT who arrived on the scene packed the victim’s severed limb in ice hoping that it might potentially be reattached. They are not sure if that will be possible, but police say the man is expected to survive.