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Airman saves driver in South Harrison crash
Story and photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht, 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For Airman 1st Class Rob Bowen it had been just another relaxing afternoon July 24.

He was talking to his aunt outside her house on Route 45 and Monroeville Road in South Harrison Township. Suddenly, they both heard a very loud bang.

"I knew from the sound of it there was an accident, so I took off running," said Bowen, who couldn't immediately see the crash because of a shed and trees in his aunt's yard.

"As I came around the shed, a tractor-trailer was coming right towards me, the accident was still in progress," he said.

Dodging out of the way, Bowen waited for the dust to settle to assess the situation.

"A white pickup truck was smashed into the trailer of the semi, and the semi had been stopped by a tree, which had burst a fuel tank and started a fire," said Bowen.

Bowen, 24, said his training kicked in right away. "The training I have received from the Air National Guard, lessons learned from being a first responder, helped immensely," said Bowen, a firefighter with the 177th Fighter Wing.

Bowen immediately ran to the semi, as flames rose around the cab.

"I jumped up on the cab, and looked through the windshield, but I couldn't see anyone," said Bowen. "The fuel tank started to really go on the semi, so I turned my attention back to the white pickup truck."

When he ran back to the pickup truck, Bowen was able to yank open the driver side door, and discovered an unconscious man inside.

Bowen unbuckled the man's seat belt, grabbed him under the arms, and dragged him away from the wreck.

"I dragged him away until I stopped feeling the heat," said Bowen.

Once the unconscious man, later identified as Timothy Clyne, 37, of Philadelphia, was safely away from the wreck, Bowen went back to the semi.

"I went back to the semi again, but the flames had gotten too bad, the fire was really going," said Bowen.

Bowen returned to the pickup driver to perform self-aid and buddy care, using his shirt to try to stop bleeding from Clyne's forehead.

"Once emergency crews arrived, stayed with my patient, who was finally starting to come around," said Bowen.

When asked if he was a hero, Bowen would only say, "I hope if I was in that situation, someone would do the same for me."

Clyne was treated at Cooper University Hospital in Camden and released.

Firefighter salute

Firefighters salute 177th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Robert C. Bolton at the end of his final flight, March 10, 2012. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/Released)


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Volume 35 Number 4 Staff / Information
(c) 2013 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs