OUTSIDE POSADA, Romania --
What started out as a simple trip for the Marines and sailors of Black Sea Rotational Force 12, to run a marathon and enjoy the local culture of Transylvania, turned out to be a day of action when a car carrying a Romanian family of four crashed down a steep embankment, May 6, 2012.
After running a 14-kilometer marathon near the historic Bran castle, better known as “Dracula’s Castle,” 15 Marines and sailors of BSRF-12 were en route to their home station of Mihail Kogalniceanu when an elderly Romanian man was spotted alongside a destroyed guard rail signaling for help.
“We were all exhausted from the run, and a lot of us were asleep and still in our running gear but as soon as we realized what was going on, we knew we had to do something,” said Gunnery Sgt. Juan Delacruz, a Watch Officer with Command Element BSRF-12.
The vehicle, carrying a man, woman, young girl and an infant had been traveling down a winding mountain road before veering off the pavement through a guard rail and landing almost 200 meters down a precipitous embankment in a heavily wooded area.
“It had just rained and the hill was very steep,” said Delacruz. “If you had stopped to look you wouldn’t even know the car was down there.”
Once the service members realized the severity of the crash, they formed a hasty plan, splitting their assets between the roadside and the site of the crash allocating medical personnel to both factions.
“When something happens, it’s the Marines mindset to get the mission accomplished and at that moment it was our mission to get that family safely off the hill,” said Delacruz.
When the Marines and sailors reached the extremely-damaged vehicle, they found the dazed family unable to remove themselves from their car and stuck at the bottom of a muddy-sheer hillside.
“It seemed like forever to get down the hill. We couldn’t see the car, we could just hear crying. Every 'Doc' has it ingrained to come running when your hear ‘corpsman up’,” said Chief Petty Officer Kathy Canady, a chief hospital corpsman with Shock Trauma Platoon, BSRF-12.
As the Marines and sailors on scene worked to safely remove the family, others communicated the location and nature of injuries to the local authorities.
“Everyone fell into their positions, some of us were assessing the injuries while others were relaying that information topside,” said Canady.
The Marines then traversed the difficult terrain taking turns carrying the infant and the injured mother who was strapped to a litter due to her injuries.
“I heard the baby crying and the doc said [the infant] needed to go up right away, so we took turns carrying the child up the hill,” said Gunnery Sgt. Andrew Morgan, a Utilities Chief with Command Element, BSRF-12. “It took a lot teamwork to get that family to safety.”
After the arduous task of bringing the injured family up the hill had been accomplished, the Marines and sailors stopped to reflect on their actions and inquire after the welfare of the family.
[The family] are very lucky this happened in front of a van full of Americans, it’s like having an accident in front of superman, said Juliana Avrigeanu, a native of Constanta, Romania.
The Black Sea Rotational Force 12 is a Special-Purpose MAGTF with crisis response capabilities deployed to the region to enhance interoperability, promote regional stability and build camaraderie amongst the forces.