Hero to three: Buckley NCO saves lives from drunken driving accident
By Airman Emily E. Amyotte, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 21, 2014
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- It had already been dark for hours when the two were driving through the frozen housing complex. Minutes away from home, laughing and discussing the night they just shared, they pulled up on a cluster of taillights pushed to the side of the road.
This past December, Staff Sgt. Jordan Gunterman, 460th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, was a witness and hero to the victims of a drunken driving accident.
It was a Sunday night in single-digit temperatures; he and his wife, Starlla, were heading back home after a friend's birthday dinner. The two came up on an accident that couldn't have taken place more than five minutes before, leaving a red sedan smashed to pieces.
There were five or six people already surrounding the wreckage. Gunterman told his wife to pull over so he could see if he could offer any help. Making his way over to the crowd, he heard screams muffled through the broken glass and crumpled car. He sprinted towards the wreck, shining his light into the passenger seat.
"I saw a woman who was a bloody mess; confused and bleeding out of her nose, mouth and ears," he remembered. "I asked if she was okay to make sure she was breathing and she answered with, 'Who are you? I don't know what happened.'"
He swung open her door and frantically looked to see if she had any further injuries. A man walked up from behind and nonchalantly admitted to being the one who had hit them.
Gunterman asked if he was alright, but he needed to continue to help without the man getting in his way.
A boy sitting in the back seat, who didn't know his own name or where he was, caught Gunterman's eye. After only talking for a moment, he noticed the six-year-old's attention was fixed on the driver's seat.
"And that's when my flashlight went to him," he paused.
Behind the steering wheel was the grandfather to the two children in the back seat, covered in his own blood. Gunterman ran around to the side of the car that had taken the impact and started checking for the man's vitals, but he couldn't take back what had happened.
The little girl that sat behind the driver's seat cried out for her grandfather. Gunterman tried over and over again to bring life into the man, but nothing worked. A helpless feeling overwhelmed him and he couldn't hold back his tears.
"I checked vitals one last time and felt something move," he said. "I instantly assumed it was a heartbeat but when I looked over, the man that had tried to start a previous conversation with me was trying to pick the mom up."
Furious, Gunterman ordered the man to not move the mother and to come stand behind him. He didn't listen. His breath reeked of alcohol as he was belligerently cussing and refusing to obey.
He was drunk, Gunterman said. He just killed this man and tore apart his family.
Looking over the mangled car with blood on his hands, tears continued to roll down his cheeks.
"That's when someone said the car is leaking fuel and the car is smoking," he said. "So I ran over, pulled the mom, son and daughter out of the car and put them in my warm car with Starlla."
Shortly after the three were safe with his wife, the police and paramedics arrived. The drunken man who had hit the small car was now shut into the back seat of a police car with handcuffs on his wrists. An ambulance rushed the family off to the nearest hospital, leaving the staff sergeant and his wife to look back on what happened.
Gunterman constantly begs everyone to never risk driving under the influence; to never say, "I'm good" or "I do this all the time," because he has seen firsthand that it's not worth it.
"I pray that no one ever feels what that family is dealing with right now and I pray it never happens to them personally," he said. "My thoughts and prayers are with this family."
A night that was originally planned for a laidback dinner and some laughs quickly turned into an event that will have a lasting impression on Gunterman.
"So many thoughts cloud my mind when I am not busy working," he said. "The most asked question is why? Why did that man decide to drink and drive? Was it really worth it? A few good drinks and a stupid decision killed an innocent man."