Sgt. 1st Class Chad Bailey won’t call himself a hero. However, his actions may prove otherwise.
The U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Directorate of Emergency Services Military Police Investigations supervisor was travelling with his family on the L-529, near their amusement park destination Aug. 9 when brake lights in front of him suddenly lit up and traffic came to a sudden and screeching halt. That’s when Bailey saw a car, crunched at both ends and laying on its top on the opposite side of the road.
“I looked at my wife and she said, ‘Go!’ because she knew what I was doing,” Bailey said. “I opened the door and jumped out. I was wearing my bathing suit and one thing I remember is my wallet swinging back and forth really hard in my pocket as I ran forward. I had to reach down and hold it still so I could run.”
The scene Bailey ran up on was worse than he expected.
“The engine was still running, the tires were still spinning and smoke was rising from the engine compartment,” he said. “There were two people in the car, a man who was already out but very shook up and a female. Two other people tried to pull the female out but looked like they were afraid to touch her. She was struggling and very confused.”
After Bailey helped her the rest of the way out of the overturned Mercedes, she sat there in a disoriented state. He said he was trying to communicate to the German woman that she may be in danger, but it appeared his words weren’t getting through to her.
“I gave her about three seconds and told her, ‘We need to move’ and she wasn’t hearing me, so I finally said, ‘Auto go boom!’”
Bailey picked the woman up from behind with his arms under hers and dragged her to a shaded spot away from the wrecked car. Military Combat Lifesaver Course training kicked in and he checked her for injuries, and didn’t find anything obvious.
Bailey has been part of the garrison about 11 months as the MP Investigations supervisor. His skill in that job made him a natural choice to serve as the head of Team Trace, which tracks down the contacts of those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“Sgt. 1st Class Bailey has already made a name for himself within the garrison as the noncommissioned officer in charge of Team Trace operations,” said Maj. Chase Crabtree, DES director. “He’s a stellar individual and I’m not surprised he ran toward the danger. I’m blessed to have him.”
After monitoring the couple for a few minutes, the Polizei arrived and Bailey said he got back in his car and, when traffic started moving, he and his family went on to enjoy their day. The whole incident took less than 15 minutes, he said.
“I did lay in bed Sunday night wondering how that couple was doing,” Bailey said. “I’m glad it doesn’t appear anyone was hurt too badly.”
As for the cause of the accident, Bailey’s investigation training led him to a couple of possibilities, but rather than speculate, he’s leaving that up to the host nation investigators to officially determine.