Corporal Tim McClinchy and Trooper Randy Horton
On August 8, 2008 at approximately 0824 hours Corporal Tim McClinchy and Trooper Randy Orton were working a two car accident on Interstate 70, east of the E-470 interchange. An excited motorist contacted both troopers advising them of a multiple vehicle accident about one mile west of their location. As both troopers responded to the scene, they noticed a large amount of smoke coming from a seven vehicle accident, which included a commercial vehicle. A subsequent investigation showed that the commercial vehicle had rear-ended a vehicle driven by Mr. Jason Rhodes, causing Mr. Rhodes to impact other vehicles, causing substantial damage, and forcing his vehicle off of the right side of the roadway. The commercial vehicle continued to impact other vehicles in the sequence of this accident.
Upon coming to a rest, Mr. Rhodes’ vehicle became engulfed in flames. The fire was growing due to a fuel leak that could not be contained. Both troopers arrived on scene and immediately attempted to use their fire extinguishers, depleting both and having little effect on the flames. Knowing their extinguishers were not dampening the flames, both troopers concentrated their efforts on keeping the flames off of Mr. Rhodes, who was trapped in the vehicle and could not be extricated. Having expelled their extinguishers, both troopers took whatever means they had available to contain the flames and save the life of Mr. Rhodes. One of the troopers would stay with Mr. Rhodes while the other ran out to the roadway stopping commercial vehicles to get their fire extinguishers. They would then use these new extinguishers to try and keep the fire away from Mr. Rhodes and the driver area. With the amount of heat and flames, it was not possible to keep all of the fire away from Mr. Rhodes. The troopers did not back away from trying to save Mr. Rhodes, even when the flames were singeing their bodies from the high levels of heat.
The troopers continued these actions until the arrival of the local fire department. It was estimated that the troopers had obtained and deployed 15 fire extinguishers! Upon the arrival of the fire department the high pressure hoses actually pushed the fuel and flames towards the troopers and Mr. Rhodes. Undaunted, the troopers stayed with Mr. Rhodes, comforting him and doing what they could to free him from the wreckage. Eventually Mr. Rhodes was freed from his vehicle and transported by helicopter to a local hospital.
It is estimated that Mr. Rhodes suffered 3rd degree burns to 20 percent of his body. While his injuries are severe, Mr. Rhodes would not have survived without the quick thinking and selfless actions of Corporal McClinchy and Trooper Orton. The next day when Corporal McClinchy and Trooper Orton went to the hospital to visit Mr. Rhodes, they learned he is Doctor Rhodes, a surgeon with Children’s Hospital. In saving the life of Dr. Rhodes, their heroic efforts will have an ever-lasting impact on those Dr. Rhodes assists in his medical capacity.
The amount of dedication and effort to utilize and use any and all resources available during this incident are paramount, and both are commended for their life saving actions.