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NROTC Students Help Rescue Woman and Child from Burning Car

Student HeroesOfficer Candidate Joshua Moore and Midshipman Jason Benning

How was your ride home from work or school last night?

Two Naval ROTC students at Old Dominion University had a more adventurous trip than most, helping rescue a woman and her young son from a burning vehicle on Interstate 264 in Norfolk.

"It's just one of those things you don't even think about when you're doing it. But when I got home, I had a real hard time falling asleep," said Officer Candidate Joshua Moore, 26, a mechanical engineering technology major, originally from Bluffs, Ill.

"People always say they'd run into a burning building to save somebody, but you never really know," said Midshipman Jason Benning, 22, also a mechanical engineering technology major, from Virginia Beach. "This summer we did a lot of (emergency response) training, so I don't know if that helped us. It just sort of happened."

The two future naval officers were driving home separately after a class Wednesday night, when they both noticed a vehicle on the shoulder, facing back toward oncoming traffic. Worse, the front was smashed in and there appeared to be flames flickering out of the twisted metal.

Along with a few other motorists, Benning and Moore pulled their vehicles over and ran to the crashed car. When none of the doors could be opened, another motorist grabbed a hammer from his truck and the good Samaritans took turns trying to break the passenger-side window. "It was really hard. They had to hit the window as hard as they could a number of times so they could open the door," Benning said.

Eventually, the door was able to be opened and the female driver, who was lying across the seat, was pulled from the vehicle.

A safe distance away, the citizen rescue team then attended to the driver to make sure she was conscious and responsive. "The next thing we knew, we heard a baby crying," Benning said.

He and Moore ran back to the vehicle, where they saw a baby strapped in a car seat behind the driver's seat. Each of them opened a back door and attempted to wrestle with the car seat to get the child out, struggling with the seat belts because of the anxiety of the situation. "The smoke was so bad by this point, we couldn't even see each other," Moore said. "We could see flames coming through the dash by this point."

Finally, the boy, who appeared to be 3 or 4 years old, was removed from the car and carried to safety. "It couldn't have been more than 60 seconds later, the entire vehicle went up in flames," Benning said.

By this time, the boy and his mother were safely in rescue vehicles that had arrived on the scene. Both were conscious when they got to the hospital. Benning and Moore didn't even get the names of the woman and her son, or the police, fire and ambulance personnel that responded. They simply got back into their vehicles and completed their drive home.

Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Jameson, assistant professor of naval science at ODU, said he is proud of the quick work of the two young men, but not surprised by their actions.

"They're already leaders in the community. A Naval ROTC member will volunteer over 1,000 hours per year. They're committed to serve."