Originally created 05/10/06

Soldier quick to help driver



SAVANNAH, Ga. - Thirteen hours after returning from Iraq, a National Guard soldier helped rescue a man whose truck veered off the Forest River Bridge and landed in the marsh.

Sgt. Shawn Dantzler and his family were on their way to the mall shortly before 1 p.m. Monday when a Ford F-150 pickup started to swerve in front of them on Georgia Highway 204.

"I thought he was going to sideswipe us," the 48th Brigade guardsman said. "Then I saw him go off the road, and I feared he was going into the creek."

Gary Farrand, 67, was heading east when he became ill and lost control of his truck, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson said. Mr. Farrand's truck clipped the guardrail, sped down an embankment, bulldozed a fence and landed in the marsh - just feet from Forest River, witnesses said.

Sgt. Dantzler jumped out of his Jeep and ran down the embankment, while his 17-year-old brother, Kyle, called 911.

"I don't know if it's an adrenaline rush or what. My main thing was to make sure he was OK," the guardsman said.

Sgt. Dantzler asked Mr. Farrand about his injuries and talked to him about family to keep him focused and awake, he said.

Once Southside Fire/EMS paramedics arrived and removed the driver from his truck, Sgt. Dantzler helped load the injured man on a stretcher and carry him up the embankment.

Mr. Farrand was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was listed in good condition Monday night, according to hospital spokeswoman Betsy Yates. Police credit Sgt. Dantzler's quick response in summoning emergency officials.

"The soldier was doing his civic duty and was doing what I hope any other citizen would do if they saw someone trapped or injured in an auto accident," Sgt. Wilson said. "However, if you are slowing simply because your curiosity is piqued, you need to move on."

Traffic in both directions was delayed for about an hour, which officers blamed on rubber-necking motorists and at least two minor vehicle crashes.