It was an emotional reunion this week as the three “Good Samaritan” Procter & Gamble employees tearfully hugged the young man they had helped rescue months earlier. “When I saw Cody walk toward us, I knew I was looking at a miracle,” Irene Beard, sporting a big grin, says about the survivor of an automobile accident which had previously left Cody Deville in a wheelchair.
On August 1, 2011, at about 5:20am, Cody Deville, a 25-year-old Forest Hill resident, was on his way to work at the Budweiser plant in Alexandria. He was traveling north on Interstate Highway 49, and approaching the MacArthur Drive exit. Details of what happened next are foggy, Deville says, but apparently he “ran off” the road and his Honda Accord careened through the back of a camper trailer. “When I woke up, they were putting stitches into my head,” Deville recalls, adding that he had sustained a broken neck from the accident.
Irene Beard, a P&G employee, was also on her way to work that morning when she was flagged down by the driver of the truck who had been pulling the camper. “When I came up, I knew it was a bad situation. The Honda went through the back of the camper, and the front half of Cody’s car was not visible. I called 911, and I remember thinking he didn’t have a chance of surviving,” Beard notes.
She turned on her vehicle’s flashers, and pulled to the side to await the ambulance. Several other vehicles passed by, with no one else stopping. About two minutes after Beard pulled over, another vehicle did stop. Margaret Myers and Gayla Butler, both of whom are P&G employees, were also on their way to work when they came upon the wreck. They pulled in front of the truck, and got out to see if they could assist. The truck driver spoke to them, and the two say he appeared to be “really shaken,” but did not assist them.
“We saw the wreck and thought it might have just happened because there was no activity. All you could see were tail lights,” Myers says, adding that she and Butler assessed the situation to see if it was safe to approach the wreck and to see if someone was in the car. “Shining a flashlight into the car, we saw blood all over the seat and a man in the driver’s seat,” Butler shudders with the memory.
Myers climbed through the back door, moved debris, and got Deville to talk while holding his head up. “He had a big gash in his head pouring blood, and he kept going to sleep. I thought his neck might be broken so I held his head up to help him breathe. There was blood everywhere, and I saw a 2×4 board that looked like it was sticking out of him. He kept waking up and asking me what happened to him. I remember thinking that I did not believe he was going to make it,” Myers recalls.
Butler stood at the back of the car with a flashlight to signal oncoming vehicles to go around the wreckage, which was on the I-49 shoulder before the MacArthur Dr. exit. “No one else was stopping to help. I called 911 again,” Butler adds. Ambulance, police and fire trucks arrived within about 15 minutes from the time Beard first called. At the hospital, Deville’s family would learn he had a broken C6 vertebrae neck injury, which could lead to permanent paralysis. “I didn’t think anyone was going to stop to help me,” Deville says about the morning of the accident. “I can’t describe how glad I was that somebody finally stopped.”
For months after the accident, Deville did experience paralysis. “I had a broken neck. I couldn’t move my hands or legs. I could not even sit up. I was in rehab for months. I spent 8 weeks at the Touro Infirmary in New Orleans,” Deville says.
The recent reunion with the three women who stopped to help him that fateful morning was a joyous occasion. “That was a morning that changed my life. It has made me appreciate life more, and to be more careful. I will always be grateful to them for stopping to help me. If they hadn’t, I might not be here or I could have been in a lot worse condition,” Deville adds.
Beard, Myers and Butler all agree that the experience was one they are not likely to forget. And when Deville walked up to hug them, with just a slight stiffness to his left side, the women all expressed amazement. “I was scared of what I might see. I thought he would still be in a wheelchair. What a blessing to see him walking,” Beard says.
The 2×4 board Myers had thought had impaled Deville actually just had him pinned down. “That morning, we didn’t think he would live. We were shocked he made it. We are so glad we were able to help him,” Myers notes.
P&G has a strong safety program and employees have been trained in emergency response procedures using skills to calmly think through situations, assess risks and help whenever needed, according to Bonnie Lemoine, P&G external relations manager. “We are so proud of these three employees. P&G employees are a real asset to the community and this is a good example of on-the-job training helping out in an emergency situation. We believe a life was probably saved by the action of these three employees working as a team. They were in two separate vehicles so the actions of them all being there at the same time really says a lot about our commitment in an emergency situation and the fact that all of them stopped to help,” Lemoine says.
Myers, a line operator who has worked at P&G for 24 years; Butler, a hopper handler who has been with P&G for two years; and Beard, a line leader for Tide Stain Release who has worked at P&G for eight years, all agree that their on-the-job training helped out in this emergency situation. In true “Good Samaritan” fashion, these three women did stop and help someone in trouble. “We are so glad we were able to make a difference,” Myers says, adding, “Something like this makes you realize your life can change in a split second. But I think helping those in need makes God happy.”