For Air Force Capt. Bradley Stone, years of medical training paid off in a big way during a visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii last week.
While waiting to take a ferry to see the USS Arizona Memorial, Stone heard a huge commotion take place behind him on Thursday morning. A civilian sight-seeing helicopter had just crashed into the harbor waters. Four of the passengers got out safely with minor injuries.
But the fifth passenger was a teenage boy trapped in the upside-down chopper in water more than 15 feet deep.
“I just couldn’t believe it happened right there,” said Stone said during an interview Monday. “People were in the water, swimming frantically and all that. At that time, I wasn’t thinking much.”
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Stone, of Granite City, is a flight nurse with 932nd Areomedical Evacuation Squadron, at Scott Air Force Base.
Stone dove underwater to find the boy strapped upside down in the submerged helicopter with a rope around his neck. Stone and several other rescuers fought for 10 minutes to free the boy from the chopper, but finally succeeded, and got him to dry land.
Stone applied CPR to the boy until emergency medical technicians and an ambulance showed up and took him to a nearby hospital.
Sr. Airman Samantha Strom, also a reservist with the 932nd squadron, administered medical aid to the crash’s other victims until ambulance crews arrived.
Stone and Strom had been deployed with their unit to Hawaii and were in place near the site of the USS Arizona Memorial, where the helicopter crash occurred at about 10:30 a.m last Thursday.