Byline: By Christina Vinson
News Category: General News
Vocational Instructor, CCA Crossroads Correctional Center
CCA has thousands of employees, but only a few are selected for the Distinguished Service Award. These individuals’ heroic actions ended up saving lives, even while they put their own lives in danger.
Drew Salois, vocational instructor at CCA Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby, Mont., was driving with his father-in-law on Jan. 19, 2015 to buy some lumber in Great Falls, Mont.
As they drove south on Interstate 90, they watched a semi hit something — and soon, they realized that “something” was a SUV. Salois and his father-in-law were three car lengths behind the semi, and the SUV’s debris scattered around both sides of the semi. The SUV spun into a ditch as the semi tipped and slid on the driver’s side for approximately 60 feet. “I do not recall experiencing any emotions of fear or panic. What I do remember is years of experience and training cycling through my thoughts,” Salois said.
Salois decided to assist the SUV as it appeared to sustain the most damage. “As I approached the SUV the driver’s seat was collapsed to the point that I don’t believe that anyone would survive it,” he said. “When I got to the SUV there was no driver, so I had my father in-law look for someone who may have been ejected from the SUV. To our relief, there was no driver to the SUV, just a female passenger.” Soon after he began tending to the passenger, a nurse took over.
The semi was laying 150 yards away, and Salois heard faint screams of a man who was packed under a few feet of snow in the cab. He quickly looked for a way into the cab, but he couldn’t find one. So he made one. “I was left with no other option than to break my way in,” he recalled. With a reflector pole he pulled out of the ground, he smashed the front windshield in. His father-in-law assisted by pulling the laminate glass away, and Salois entered the cab. “Upon entry, I did cut myself on the front of my thigh from the windshield,” he said. “The cut was only a superficial scrape, though it did leave a minor scar that I wear with pride.”
As soon as Salois was inside, he began digging in the hard, compacted snow with his bare hands. “It felt like it was an eternity as I heard him plea for help,” he said. “I was thankful for the pleas, as they gave me great motivation to dig. I had gotten to the point that I got his face uncovered so he could breathe and hear me.”
By then, emergency teams and Mercy Flight arrived, and the EMS team used the Jaws of Life to pry away the steering wheel and consoles that pinned the driver to the seat.
Douglas Fender, Crossroads warden, said, “Drew is constantly willing to help and his heroic acts saved the lives of two people. Drew is such a genuine person in that it does not matter who you are or what you do he is always willing to help. It is a luxury to have Drew as an employee as his attitude toward these types of situations is contagious. I am very proud of Drew and his father-in-law."
Salois said he was “flabbergasted” and considered it a great honor when he received the Distinguished Service Award as he only told a select few about the accident. “If I were to pass along any words, I would have to say this: Remember your training, value all life, and know that no good deed will go unnoticed.”
Regina Jackson and Tracye Sweat
Case Managers, CCA South Central Correctional Center
Driving home from work can be a monotonous drive — one you do hundreds of times a year. But for Regina Jackson and Tracye Sweat, case managers at CCA South Central Correctional Center in Clifton, Tenn., one drive home proved to be life-threatening — for them and a police officer.
Both Jackson and Sweat were in their cars, not even a mile from the entrance of the facility, around 8 p.m. A police car was pulled over along with a vehicle, but the officer and driver weren’t inside their cars. The women both noticed a police officer on the side of the highway.
Jackson said, “I happened to see him on the ground wrestling, and my first thought was he was giving someone CPR.” She and Sweat both pulled over, and they realized the officer was in the middle of an altercation.
He was trying to arrest an intoxicated young man, but he was being resistant, weighed over 300 pounds, and had knocked the officer’s glasses off his face. It was a challenging situation to say the least. “The officer was having a hard time trying to contain him,” recalled Sweat.
The young man bit the officer and was trying to reach for the pistol on his belt. While Jackson made sure the passenger of the car didn’t come out, Sweat cautiously approached the situation with all her senses on alert because she could see it was dangerous. “I didn’t think about being afraid,” she said. “Training kicks in. I worked to focus, isolate and contain the situation.” She grabbed the officer’s radio and called for backup. She also pushed his pistol behind his back so the driver couldn’t reach it.
It wasn’t until after help arrived that Jackson and Sweat realized the gravity of the situation. Sweat said, “After the fact, I thought about how [the perpetrator] could have grabbed the gun out of the holster and he could have killed all of us.” Jackson added, “We stayed chill the whole time. We kept our cool like we were at work … here, we are constantly on guard with everything we do.”
Within minutes, two Wayne County officers pulled up and were able to detain the perpetrator. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and much of it was due to Sweat and Jackson’s quick thinking, calm demeanor, and brave efforts.
“I am so proud of Tracy and Regina,” said Cherry Lindamood, South Central warden. “They saw help was needed and did not hesitate to intervene. This is a great example of their CCA PRIDE and the importance of community support to each one of us at SCCF.”
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