On his way to fix a traffic light, he witnessed the worst thing he could imagine seeing: a head-on collision.
Most of Casey O’Connell’s challenges as a signal technician involve fixing a signal cabinet or figuring out why traffic lights aren’t operating as they should be. But on Nov. 10, he faced a huge challenge, and WSDOT is so proud of how he rose to the occasion.
At around 3 a.m. on November 10, Casey was driving a signal truck toward Puyallup on State Route 512 to repair a signal cabinet that’d been damaged in a crash early that morning when he witnessed the worst thing he could imagine seeing: a head-on collision.
Just before Canyon Road, he saw a car cross the median and strike a vehicle going the other direction. There was no one else around and Casey knew he needed to check on the people, so he turned around at the next exit and was the first on the scene.
When he arrived, one car was on fire. He immediately looked inside and saw the driver was conscious but not moving.
“I asked her if she could move,” Casey said. “She said she was hurt. I told her we had to get her out right now because the car was on fire. I pulled on the door and it wouldn’t open, so I had to give it my all. She couldn’t move, so I picked her up out of the car.”
Casey carried the woman to the road while someone else called 911. By then, the car was engulfed in flames. First responders arrived within minutes and after they took over the scene, Casey went on to Puyallup to help another signal technician with the original task of repairing the damaged signal cabinet.
Fortunately the woman Casey rescued is recovering from several broken bones.
While rescuing people on the highway isn’t in Casey’s job description, we aren’t surprised that when faced with an emergency he didn’t think twice about stepping up with heroic actions.
“It was definitely scary,” he said. “I didn’t even care about how hot it was. I had one thing on my mind, and that was to get her out.”