Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard
Lampasas, Texas- Texas State Guard Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody has driven between Austin and Granbury, Texas, so many times that it has become routine.
But in a split second, his routine drive turned into the scene of a life-threating emergency.
During that drive along U.S. Highway 281 on Jun. 3, 2017, a terrible two-vehicle crash had just occurred as Moody was making his commute. One mangled vehicle was on its side leaking fuel. The other, upright but badly damaged, was smoking from the engine.
Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers Nestor Reyes and Tyler Ross were already on the scene. Moody, who works full-time on the Texas Military Department’s Domestic Operations Task Force and is trained in combat life-saving and emergency response, followed to see if he could assist.
“Working as a team with emergency responders and law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Public Safety and the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office, to assist fellow Texans during an emergency or disaster is what the Texas State Guard is all about,” Moody said.
Moody, along with Reyes, ran to the car lying on its side and looked inside.
A little girl in a car seat was trapped in the wreckage. Her legs were pinned between seats so she couldn’t move.
“We instinctively knew something had to be done quickly to extract the occupants of the vehicle who were obviously injured and trapped,” Moody said. “Waiting for the fire department didn’t seem like the best option. We didn’t discuss it. We just glanced at one another and went to work.”
Moody tried to open the rear hatch, but it wouldn’t budge. Reyes and Ross broke the rear window to get to the little girl pinned inside.
Moody crawled in.
“It’s going to be okay. You are okay. We are going to get you out. I am here to help you.” Moody says he told the girl trying to reassure her as he climbed inside.
A trooper handed Moody a coat to cover the trapped girl, while he broke the side window. Another trooper and a passing motorist, who had stopped to help, reached in and pried the seats apart, giving Moody just enough room to gently extract the pinned girl’s legs.
Once the little girl was free, Moody lifted her up to the side window and handed her to first responders, who took her to an ambulance and eventually a medical helicopter.
Within minutes, other emergency personnel, Lampasas County sheriff’s deputies and more DPS troopers arrived. Everyone was working together with a common purpose to care for the injured.
But Moody was still in the car, and it was still leaking fuel.
He moved forward to the front to help the woman buckled in the driver’s seat. He covered her with a coat while firefighters cut the vehicle open to help the injured woman. When emergency responders got to the woman, Moody backed out of the vehicle.
It wasn’t until the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter lifted off with the little girl and an ambulance had transported the other injured people to local hospitals that Moody had a moment to gather his thoughts. He hadn’t realized his leg was bleeding.
“I was so focused on the task at hand, I didn’t realize I was bleeding. The emergency responders bandaged my wound, and later that evening a shard of glass was removed from my leg.” Moody said.
Since the accident, the first responders have expressed their gratitude for Moody’s actions that day.
“I am very grateful that Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody, stopped to assist DPS Troopers Nester Reyes and Tyler Ross. Moody was responsible for climbing into the wreckage to rescue a little girl,” said Lampasas County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos. “Thank you, Sgt. Moody. We appreciate your good-Samaritan action and your service to our country.”