MILFORD, Mass. – It has been a year since Mary James-Brown’s son Bryen died in a vehicle accident on Route 25 in Bourne.
Approximately one month after the accident James-Brown, a resident of South Carolina, traveled to the crash site; she also visited the lot where the van her son was riding in at the time of the accident was being kept.
“I went through everything that I could in the van,” said James-Brown.
When she learned of the accident James-Brown’s greatest fear was that her son died alone.
What she found in the van proved her wrong; in the van was the coat from a U.S. Air Force Air Battle Uniform with the name FAUX on the right side.
It was August 4, 2010, Col. Christopher Faux, Massachusetts Air National Guard, Col. Timothy Mullen, MANG, and Lt. Col. Stephen Demianczyk, MANG, were driving back to work at the Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts Military Reservation, after attending a meeting at the Massachusetts National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters, here.
“We were in the passing lane and noticed debris in our lane”, recalled Faux, “as we moved over into the middle lane we noticed more debris … as we got closer we realized that it was a person.”
The men had come upon a van that had rolled and ejected two of the three men inside.
“I looked at the other guys and said ‘We gotta do something’ and they said ‘Yeah we do’,” said Faux.
What they did was to stop and try to help in any way they could.
“People were getting very close to the person in the road, as they were trying to get around the accident,” said Faux.
Faux maneuvered his vehicle, a van, so that it shielded the person lying in the road and turned on the flashers. The Air Guardsmen then exited the van and tried to assist the victim in the road.
“The scene was kind of hectic,” said Faux, “Col. Mullen went and started … aggressively directing traffic. People were getting close … trying to stop to take pictures.”
Faux and Demianczyk started to render first aid to the injured man. “There was something going on … on the other side of the highway,” said Faux
The accident straddled both sides of Route 25, Faux and Demianczyk stayed where they were and continued to aid the victim until medical personnel arrived.
It was while he was rendering first aid that Faux took off his uniform coat to use as a cloth to help clean the area around the victim.
Col. Richard Crivello, Massachusetts Army National Guard, who had attended the same meeting, was heading back to his office at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts Military Reservation. He was traveling in a separate vehicle and was a few minutes behind Faux and the others, when he noticed their van stopped in the middle of the road.
“I said ‘Oh my G-D’, they’ve been in an accident,” recalled Crivello.
As he approached the scene, Crivello realized that his fellow officers were all right. Crivello then pulled his vehicle over and got out.
“I noticed a state trooper was running towards (a) victim lying on the grass median strip on the edge of the road,” recalled Crivello.
Seeing that Faux and Demianczyk had everything under control, Crivello went to assist the trooper.
“In the meantime a doctor and a nurse, in separate cars, who didn’t even know each other, also stopped and started giving emergency first aid to the victim,” said Crivello,” Between the four of us … we tried the best we could to stabilize the victim until the fire department came.”
As the group worked on the victim, Crivello heard screams coming from the back of the van.
“Myself and Lt. Col. Demianczyk ran over to the van and looked in,” said Crivello. The van had been carrying a landscaping crew and their equipment to a job site when it rolled over. The accident dislodged the equipment hurled it around the vehicle.
“We could hear somebody else inside the vehicle,” said Crivello, “We started pulling things off … there were all kinds of lawnmowers; gasoline … liquids that had spilled … it was all over the victim. When we dug that person out, he was badly injured too.”
While Demianczyk stayed with the third man, Crivello went back to his team, where they continued to aid the victim until the person was transported to the hospital.
The man Faux and Demianczyk aided was the driver of the accident; he survived.
The man Demianczyk and Crivello pulled from the van had been riding in the back at the time of the accident; he survived.
The man Crivello followed the trooper to help had been sitting in the front passenger seat; he was James-Brown’s son Bryen.
Standing at the van her son had been riding in, all James-Brown knew was that someone named Faux may be able to answer some of the questions she had.
“I said this person was obviously at the accident site,” recalled James-Brown.
So she “Googled” the name Faux and press accounts of the accident appeared.
“It took me a while,” said James-Brown, “to be able to speak with him and find out that there were people there with my son.”
The two talked for a while. Faux answered James-Brown’s questions the best that he could; all the while letting her know that while he did not personally aid her son, Crivello and the others were with him until he was transported to the hospital.
“I just felt like it was an honor to have four (colonels and) lieutenant colonels,” said James-Brown, “taking the shirts off their backs to help not just my son but the driver … and the … passenger in the back.”
Faux was also able to put James-Brown in touch with the doctor who stopped and actually went to her son’s aid.
“It made me feel so … relieved and at comfort to know that my son wasn’t on that highway by himself in pain and subsequently dying,” said James-Brown, “he had all these … Army (and Air) men around him.”
She added that after speaking with Faux, she was able sleep for the first time since her son’s death without having a nightmare that he died alone.
While Faux understands and appreciates James-Brown’s sentiments; he feels that that his actions that day are part of his duty as a U.S. Servicemember.
“In any situation that the public sees a uniform … they expect you to do something, they’re looking to you. I didn’t feel pressured (to help); I don’t think anybody in the vehicle felt pressured. We just knew what was expected of us,” said Faux, “I’ve heard people say ‘the difference is the people in uniform run toward the emergency when everyone else is running away’.”
Crivello echoed Faux’s feelings.
“We’re all taught not to turn a blind eye when needed. Somebody needed help … we just responded to it,” said Crivello, “Hopefully if it was me in that situation, somebody would stop and do the same thing.”
While Crivello did not speak to James-Brown, he knows what he would say.
“There were a group of people that really tried to save his life. He was surrounded by a lot of love that day … he wasn’t alone and people cared for her son, cared for his well being and tried their very best to save him.”
James-Brown wanted to let the Guardsmen and the others know that she is still comforted for their actions that day.
“It always so strange to hear people say ‘Thank you doesn’t seem enough’, but I guess that’s the only word(s) we have … that expresses how you feel,” said James-Brown, “They were there for my son. For a parent to know that somebody took the time to stop whatever they were doing … to help (try) to save someone’s life; how do say just ‘Thank you’?”