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‘In the right place at the right time’: Academy cadet to be honored by Red Cross for helping driver in rollover accident

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Story and photo by Jennifer Spradlin, Nov. 21, 2019

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. —  An Air Force Academy cadet will be recognized at the Red Cross Colorado Springs Hometown Heroes Dinner, March 14, after responding to a vehicle accident outside the North Gate last fall.

Cadet 1st Class Kristen Nye, of La Center, Washington, said it had been a regular Monday afternoon and she was turning to base when a cement truck exited the freeway onto the roundabout, raised onto two wheels, and toppled onto its side.

“It’s like something you would see in a movie. It hit so hard,” said Nye who is assigned to Cadet Squadron 23. “I could have easily driven past [the accident], but I just knew there was no way I could do that.”

Nye pulled over, called 911, and checked on the status of the driver despite smelling gasoline. The driver was pinned by the dashboard, which had crumbled inward. He had a gash in his forehead and seemed dazed.

Nye said a small group of citizens arrived within minutes and began helping at the scene. She cleared debris from the cab of the truck while a few men tried to pry open the vehicle door. An Airman used his shirt to help stop the driver’s bleeding.

After a police officer arrived, Nye directed traffic to ease the backup outside the gate.

Nye later received the Air Force Achievement Medal for her actions and was nominated by her squadron commander, Maj. Daniel Moore, to be honored as a Red Cross Hometown Hero. Nominees are recognized for their role in saving a life, supporting the military, or providing humanitarian assistance to those in need.

“We have many cadets who perform heroic deeds; however, Cadet Nye truly stepped into a difficult situation and potentially saved a life,” Moore said. “She responded quickly and decisively, taking charge and providing aid until responders could arrive.”

Nye said she was simply in the right place at the right time to make a difference, and she hopes her personal recognition may inspire others to act.

“It’s quite an honor to be recognized by the Red Cross,” she said. “I feel like what I did was very small compared to the difference they make as an organization, but if the world is going to be a better place, it starts with each individual and small actions.”