PAFB lieutenant helps car accident victim

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
Airmen seldom know how their unique training will benefit someone in need, but one Patrick Air Force Base second lieutenant found that his training helped save a man's life.

It was just before 8 p.m., Aug. 8, 2014, when 2nd Lt. Benjamin Deschane, 5th Space Launch Squadron ordnance engineer for the Atlas V rocket program, was traveling westbound on State Road 528 toward Orlando, Florida.

"The rain was just letting up and the road was still wet when I saw a red compact car in the inside lane approaching a blue truck in the outside lane," said Deschane. "The driver of the red car attempted to change into the outside lane, which was already occupied by the truck."

As the red car approached the left side of the truck, the driver of the truck maneuvered toward the right, and onto the shoulder to avoid the collision, according to the Florida Highway Patrol report. The driver of the truck then attempted to steer back toward the left as the truck began sliding on the wet pavement and shoulder.

The truck began rotating counter clockwise and sliding toward the right. The truck crossed the paved portion of the right shoulder and onto the wet grassy portion, according to the Florida Highway Patrol report.

The truck's tires dug into the soft wet dirt shoulder, causing the vehicle to overturn onto its driver side. The truck came to a final rest on the right shoulder, facing south.

The driver of the red car left the scene failing to render aid and exchange information with the driver of the truck.

Seconds after Deschane witnessed the incident, he could tell there was a possibility someone was either seriously injured, unconscious, or couldn't move, and in need of help.

From that point, he followed his gut reaction, pulled over and asked his passenger to call 9-1-1.

He ran into the wet ditch where the full-sized pickup truck landed and climbed onto the truck and opened the door.

"Fortunately, the man was alive, but at the time he could not have gotten out of the car without help," Deschane said.

In the midst of the commotion, a few other Samaritans arrived on scene and he led them through the Self-Aid Buddy Care process that the military taught him.

"We checked him over for breathing and any visible injuries," said Deschane. "The man was responsive, able to stand, but was in shock and frantic.

"We were able to help calm him down," he said.

About 15 minutes later, emergency responders arrived and took over from there.

"Second Lt. Deschane's selfless act and quick thinking is a testament to the outstanding Airmen we have in our world's greatest Air Force," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander. "I couldn't be prouder of the team we have here at Patrick-Cape."

Bystanders may have just driven by the accident but not this Air Force Space Command Airman. 

"Growing up, on more than one occasion, I can remember being on the road and my Dad stopping to help someone after a car accident," Deschane said.  "Once, we saw a car flip over so my dad stopped to offer help. He always taught me to help others when I can.

"I didn't know if anyone else would help," he added. "I was there and I knew that I could help, so I did.

"I just thought whoever was in that truck has someone who was hoping they would get home safely," the Wisconsin native said. "I hope that if I was ever in that situation that someone would pull over and help me." 

Editor's Note: The driver of the truck was wearing his seat belt. Increase seat belt use is critical to reduce injury and saving lives, according to