While driving on State Route 87 Saturday night with my daughter, Air Force airman Laynie Brogdon, EMT and medical technician, a woman in the road, flagged us down.
The woman banged on the window, yelling at us to call 911.
It was just before 7:30 p.m. Aug. 21, at milepost 265 on northbound Highway 87.
We pulled off into a skinny strip of shoulder and Laynie handed me her phone to call 911. She then grabbed a handful of supplies and ran down a hill to help.
Given the sketchy phone service, I couldn’t walk toward the scene, so I gave what information I knew.
Once off the phone, I surveyed the scene, looking for my youngest child. I saw vehicles slowing to look, but at what I couldn’t tell. Debris scattered the roadway and I saw bystanders looking to the east off the highway. About 100 feet down the hill, I saw the undercarriage of a vehicle.
Deep in a ravine, Laynie had found an SUV pinned between a boulder and a tree. Inside were two adults, alert and talking, but trapped.
“They told me their first names, and that they lived in Pine and were headed to Payson,” Laynie later told me. She had a hard time seeing them and knew it would take a while for Pine-Strawberry Fire District (PSFD) personnel to get them out safely.
Within minutes, PSFD engines arrived along with Department of Public Safety officers and Gila County sheriff’s deputies.
Looking back, I was definitely more worried than I should have been and it came out in my voice as I spoke to the crew members that arrived, letting them know my daughter was on the scene and I had not seen her since she left the car.
Firefighters slid down into the ravine to reach a vehicle no one yet knew was stable, realizing that Laynie was likely on the underside of this vehicle tending to the people inside. All I could do was stand around and worry.
Laynie later explained that once she reached the vehicle she asked the couple if they could feel their fingers and toes, which they could.
Laynie learned the couple had just made their first payment on the new SUV.
She did what she could to keep them calm as they waited for help.
As the first two firefighters on scene assessed the vehicle and the needed equipment, they asked Laynie to continue talking to the couple for just a little longer.
More help and equipment arrived and slid down the hill.
I finally saw Laynie scramble back up the rocky incline in sandals.
Crews worked to secure the back of the vehicle with a chain to a large tree. After removing the windshield and aided by Payson Fire Department personnel, crews extracted the couple from the front window, said PSFD Capt. Paul Voakes.
They were placed in a “vac/u-splint,” a new technology that allows first responders to secure the patient in what looks like a form fitting bean bag. Then 10 people carried them up a very steep hill to an awaiting ambulance.
Both patients were taken to Banner Payson Medical Center with minor injuries.
The northbound driver, “recalled her eyelids feeling heavy. Fatigue may have been a factor,” said Arizona Department of Public Safety Capt. and Public Affairs Unit Commander Eddie Rogers.
The northbound driver was treated and released at the scene and cited for the accident.