The phrase “not all heroes wear capes” is often used to describe everyday people who do good deeds.
To a local mother and her two children, Arnold Engineering Development Complex team members Casey Culver, Greg Garner and U.S. Space Force 1st Lt. Michael Hareld, are definitely considered heroes.
As AEDC personnel were leaving the base at the end of the work day April 14, these three were among those who witnessed a collision at the intersection of Payne’s Church Road and AEDC Road and stopped to assist the occupants of the SUV, which had rolled over, trapping them inside.
In their day-to-day jobs at Arnold Air Force Base, the headquarters of AEDC, performing rescues is not a typical task they encounter. Culver works as a lead pipefitter, Garner is an electrician, and Hareld is a program manager for the Hypersonic Systems Test Branch, 804th Test Group, AEDC.
Maj. Scott Burrows, deputy director of the Hypersonic Systems Test Branch720 TF, advised AEDC leadership of the heroic actions of these individuals.
“Their quick actions rescued the driver, a mother, and her two young kids,” said Burrows, who recounted what happened from information he received from Hareld. “Upon witnessing the incident, they quickly approached the vehicle, while another witness dialed 9-1-1.”
Hareld commented that he didn’t really make a conscious decision to stop and offer assistance, it was more of an instant reaction.
“I saw someone, and a situation, who needed help, and I wanted to make sure that I could help however possible,” he said.
When asked what was going through his mind while witnessing the wreck, Culver mentioned he first thought he was about to be part of the wreck.
“I was behind Garner when it was happening,” Culver said. “The SUV was in the air and we didn’t know if we were going to be involved too.”
Garner added, “It was like everything was happening in slow mo,” and he pulled off to the side of the road, narrowly missing the woman’s SUV.
“When I got out, I could hear kids hollering,” Garner said.
Culver, who has his own children and now grandkids, and Garner, who also has children, said it was really a no-brainer to help.
“Greg [Garner] got the front window busted open and when the woman got out of the vehicle, she was panicked about the kids, so he went inside the vehicle to get them out of their car seats,” Culver said. “I just assisted Greg. He handed them off to me as he got them out of their seats.”
Hareld stated while he doesn’t work in emergency services, he does have some training in life-saving techniques.
“Being CPR certified and having years of Self-Aid Buddy Care, I felt confident in being able to assist in whatever capacity necessary until medical support arrived,” he said.
Culver also mentioned that he was formerly a volunteer firefighter and would never hesitate to help someone. As an electrician at Arnold, Garner commented that he has standard first aid training and CPR training. These two both said if they had to do it over again, they would.
Hareld said he wasn’t surprised that his fellow teammates stopped.
“To see the selfless offering of support makes me extremely proud to be part of the AEDC family,” he said.