'There at that time when they needed it': Fairfield County Marine awarded for saving mother and child

BRIDGEPORT — A local United States Marine was recently honored for her part in saving a mother and child involved in a car accident last year.

U.S. Marines Corps Lance Cpl. Alyssa David, of Bridgeport, was given the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for her actions when traveling back to base in North Carolina from Connecticut on Sept. 25, according to a news release.

The Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal is “awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Marine Corps, distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service.”

The ceremony for David’s commendation was held on Jan. 22. She is a member of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing.

David was driving on Kinston Highway in Onslow County, North Carolina late at night when she hit something on the road. She pulled over and her friend pointed out an accident, David said in an interview recorded by the Marine Corps.

“I look (and) there’s a red truck in a ditch completely smashed in (with) smoke coming from the engine a little bit,” she said.

David said she looked over and saw an 18-wheeler FedEx truck also in a ditch off the road. She said unbuckled and ran over to the smoking vehicle, opening the passenger seat and finding the driver.

“She was unconscious,” David said. “I could see the blood coming from her head and down her arms a little bit. She was kind of limp, but her seat belt was restricting her from falling.”

David said she went to the other side of the car and checked for a pulse, adding she heard the woman faintly breathing. She said she tried calling her name but the woman did not wake up.

“From then, people were coming so I yelled out, ‘Hey. Call 911,’” she said, noting she also told people to check the tractor trailer and see if the driver was alright.

David told her friend to stay with the woman as she began to search the rest of the vehicle, which had stuff strewn about. That’s when her friend noticed someone in the back seat. David said she found a baby, noting the baby was not crying or fussing.

She said to see a child in that predicament was “super scary.”

“From there, I tried undoing her seat belt, and when I finally got her out, there was a woman on the phone with the ambulance,” she said, noting EMS crews told the woman to keep the baby in the car seat she was strapped to in case there were injuries they could not see. “We got the baby out. I put her down with an older woman.”

David said she went back to check on the driver, who was going in and out of consciousness at that point.

“She would wake up and start screaming,” she said. “I’m pretty sure she was in a lot of pain. The front of the car was completely smashed in, so we couldn’t see her legs. At this point there were a few of us around... we we’re just doing our best to try to keep her calm.”

First responders arrived and used the jaws of life to get the woman out of the car — something David said she had never seen before. She described shaking, being full of adrenaline and scared for the woman’s life.

“They came. They got her out,” she said. “It was a relief knowing she would eventually be OK.”

After talking with a state trooper, David said she was cleared to leave. She said she immediately called her mentor, who told to tell her chain of command of the incident.

When she told her sergeant, David said, he informed her that she could be given a commendation for what she did. She said she was not looking for an award, and is mostly grateful to have helped the mother and child.

“Not for the award or anything else, but to have been there at that time when they needed it,” David said.

David said her mind was blank during the accident, but she thought about it a lot afterward.

“For a few weeks after that accident, I would close my eyes and see that woman there just dangling,” she said. “It was scary but I knew she was OK. But it was super scary that maybe, if I wasn’t there at the time, she could have bled out or maybe lost her legs.”

David said she had trouble sleeping for a while, until she was told the woman was recovering and doing therapy for her legs.

“After that, I felt a lot better,” she said, adding she talked to her mom about the incident. “She helped me a lot with it. Just telling me that I did a good thing and that it was a good thing that I was there. That there was a reason I was there at that time.”