Marshall County teen gives first aid to elderly driver in crash with semi

Conor Washburn was sitting in his truck when he heard the crash.

CALVERT CITY, KY — A Marshall County High School student rushed to administer first aid to an elderly driver after she crashed her car into a semitrailer in Calvert City.

Conor Washburn, 17, will be a senior next school year. On Friday, May 24 — his first official day of summer break — he went to Kentucky Lake Outdoors to get his fishing bow adjusted. He got there at about 8:40 a.m., 20 minutes before the store opens, so he sat in his truck and waited. Suddenly, he heard a loud bang. He turned around and saw the aftermath of the wreck through his truck window.

The crash happened on the mile marker 27 exit ramp off Interstate 24. The Marshall County Emergency Management Agency says the car was traveling the wrong way on the ramp. Once it reached the highway, it collided with the semi. The car ended up on the grass off the ramp while the semi crashed into some nearby fencing.

Washburn grabbed his first aid kit and ran to the scene.

Although emergency management officials did not release the name of the car’s driver, witnesses told Local 6 it was a woman in her 80s.

Washburn said once he saw the wreck happen a few hundred feet from him, he jumped into action.

“I saw a semi plunge into the ditch, and then I saw like a little black sedan that had just gotten completely torn up spin into the ditch as well,” Washburn recalled. “And so I opened up my center console. I grabbed this first aid kit.”

Washburn climbed a fence to get to the injured driver.

Washburn ran to the mangled car, scaling a fence on the way. A Kentucky State Police trooper arrived at about the same time. They were the first two on the scene.

Once Washburn reached the elderly driver, he saw how injured her hand was.

“The skin on the top of her hand from the wreck, where it was on the steering wheel, you could see the bones, and these knuckles and lacerations right here that were all the way to the bone,” said Washburn. He put on some latex gloves from his first aid kit and began patching her up.

“I took the rolls of gauze out and I bandaged her hand. And then the lady gave me a bottle of water that I used to pour over her knuckles and kind of clean those off with the other gauze pad that I had,” said Washburn.”She kept saying that her chest was hurting. And I figured from the impact, she probably had broken ribs or internal bleeding that we couldn’t see.”

Washburn said he also ran over to check on the driver of the semi, who did not appear to be hurt. Washburn then returned to the injured woman, and stayed with her until paramedics arrived.

“When the paramedics got there, I told them everything that she had told me, and what I saw, and then they took it from there,” said Washburn.

Washburn said he’s unsure how long he stayed with the driver, but guessed it was about 30 to 45 minutes.

Washburn was a sophomore on Jan. 23, 2018, when the Marshall County High School shooting happened, and because of that he said he knows how to think fast during a crisis.

“My mind was only focused on one thing on the 23rd, which was getting me and my friends out. And on that day (of the wreck), my mind was focused on one thing, which was helping the lady in need,” said Washburn.

Washburn is not only certified in CPR and first aid. He’s an Eagle Scout. He said his experience with wilderness survival was helpful for a situation like this. Despite the compliments he’s been getting, Washburn is humble.

“I’m not a hero. The people like the police officers, and the paramedics, and the fire and rescue, and even our military members who signed up to do this job and who do this every day — they’re heroes. I was just a guy in the right place at the right time,” said Washburn.

Washburn recalled that the injured driver said she missed the Cracker Barrel exit and was supposed to eat there with her son. When asked what he would say to her today, Washburn said “I would ask her how she’s doing — if she’s OK.”

The injured driver was airlifted to a hospital in Evansville, according to the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency. Local 6 is contacting authorities to get an update on her condition.

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