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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Phillip White
Sergeant Saves Lives at Accident Scene
By Capt. Jennifer Gerhardt
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., July 10, 2006 — A head-on collision on Washington's State Route 101 between Sequim and Port Angeles July 3 brought out the heroism in 12 strangers who stopped to help.

"I did what anyone else would have done, and I would do it all over again today. I just knew I needed to help."
Tech. Sgt. Phillip White

One of those heroes was Tech. Sgt. Phillip White, a reservist with the 446th Airlift Wing here.

White was with his family when a Ford Explorer carrying a family of four crossed the centerline of the road and hit a Toyota 4Runner carrying another family of four.

"There was no thinking involved, it was just instantaneous -- kids, burning car, get them out," said White, recalling how he rushed to the Ford Explorer, broke one of the windows with a rock and pulled the two girls from the backseat before it exploded. "It's just something I had to do. There was no thinking involved."

After White handed the girls to a bystander, he returned to help the father who was semi-conscious and trying to bat away the flames when the car exploded.

"I tried to help the father, too, but the flames were too much by then," White said. "I wish I could have helped the man, but I knew I couldn't or we both would have died."

The girls' mother, who was driving the Explorer, was thrown from the vehicle and pulled out of the vicinity of the flames by other witnesses.
 White turned to the other vehicle next.

"I went to the other vehicle and broke the glass out and pulled the little boy out," said White. "By the time I went to help the mom in the vehicle, the fire department showed up and began helping."

Unbeknownst to White, while he was helping the victims in the second vehicle, his wife also was helping out.

"I didn't know it at the time, but my wife was taking care of the two kids I had pulled out of the first car," said White. "My daughter also was helping out getting blankets, and my other daughter gave up her toys to the kids to comfort them."

White also didn't know his wife had left with the children in the ambulance. When he went to pick her up, she found out he was the one who had pulled the children from the vehicle.

"She was pretty amazed," White said. "She was like, ‘You did that?'"

The local fire department regards the 12 rescuers as heroes.

"Their actions are above and beyond what most people will do in this day and age," said Assistant Chief Ben Andrews of the Clallam County Fire District No. 3. "Most people don't want to take the risk."

"I did what anyone else would have done, and I would do it all over again today," White said. "I just knew I needed to help."

Last Updated:
07/10/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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