When Cahokia Leadman Aaron Garcia isn’t busy as a liquids terminals operator on the Mississippi River, he takes on the daunting role of saving lives.
While driving back to Illinois from a Florida vacation, Garcia witnessed a truck in front of him that was pulling a camper start to swerve.
Garcia, who was with his wife Katie and sons Camden, 6, and Behret, 1, warned them that something was going to happen.
The truck and camper began swaying and then the truck lost control and both pivoted in front of them, catapulted into the air, and then flipped into the ditch. Garcia was able to slam on his brakes and stop in time before his vehicle became part of the accident.
“There were a lot of fluids leaking from the vehicles so I ran over to the truck to help the passengers out while Katie called 911,” said Garcia. “I made sure the passengers were alert and then told them because of the amount of fluid leaking, it was best to get them away from the vehicle.”
The accident broke the windshield and the back window of the truck out and there was quite a bit of dirt that Garcia had to dig through to get the seat belts of the passengers unhooked. By that time two to three other cars behind them had also stopped to help.
“There were three passengers in the truck, the grandmother who was driving, her husband in the passenger seat, and their grandson who was in the back of the truck. I don’t know what would’ve happened to them all if they hadn’t been buckled in,” said Garcia. “The older couple were pretty scratched up but their grandson looked unharmed. Even the little dog that the older man was holding was OK.”
Cahokia Terminal Manager Scott Schweitzer said, “I’m not surprised at what Aaron did. He’s a dedicated Team member who puts the needs of the terminal and his team members always above his own.”
As Garcia left the scene, he thought how quickly it happened and at the same time how some of it seemed to move in slow motion.
“I’ve been around racing and have seen how the accidents with the liquid spills can get bad very quickly,” he said. “I’m thankful we got them out of and away from the truck and the emergency responders were able to safely take over the situation.”
Cahokia terminal is a barge and rail terminal operated by Watco Companies on the Mississippi River. Capable of handling and transloading coal, petcoke, and liquid chemical commodities, it has access to the KCS and UP.