Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Farrell was driving home Aug. 18, when he saw an out-of-control silver car that would make it a day he will never forget.
After stopping to help at the single-vehicle accident on North Carolina’s Highway 87, he made a split-second decision and climbed through the rear window rescuing an infant trapped in the back seat.
During a heartfelt reunion Sept. 30, Farrell exchanged smiles with Liam Coffeen, now 6 months old, and received hugs and handshakes of gratitude from his parents, Caitlin and 1st Lt. Brian Coffeen, and first responders from Spout Springs Fire Department in Cameron, North Carolina.
“As Soldiers, we’re conditioned to run to the sound of gunfire so to speak ... to inject ourselves in a situation where we can do the most good. That day there was no gunfire, but there was an emergency,” said Farrell.
Before the accident, Caitlin was taking Liam to Womack Army Medical Center’s emergency room. While her husband waited to meet them at the hospital, Caitlin’s car hit a puddle in the road sending it sideways then airborne. Although she was able to get out of the overturned car, she could not reach her son who was strapped in and hanging in his car seat.
“I was hysterical. I was crying, screaming. I just wanted him to be safe,” said Caitlin.
Farrell, a married father of three, said he knew he had to act fast when he smelled fuel and saw electricity arching from the pole hit by Coffeen’s car. He immediately climbed in the car and unbuckled Liam’s car seat with ease, remembering just what to do from years past when his daughters rode in child safety seats. After climbing out of the car, he handed the baby over to his mother.
“I feel so lucky that my wife and son are okay. I cannot express my gratitude enough,” said Brian, an operations officer in the 82nd Sustainment Brigade.
Farrell is an infantryman and currently serves in Fort Bragg’s Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater). He attributes his quick reaction to the training he has received during his 19 years in the Army and two deployments to Iraq.
While he does not consider himself a hero, those who know Farrell feel he is exactly that.
“I am impressed with the courage and heroism Sergeant First Class Farrell displayed, but not surprised he risked his life to help a total stranger. He is a professional noncommissioned officer who always takes the initiative and ensures the job gets done. His actions on that August day speak volumes for all Soldiers to emulate,” said Lt. Col. Landis Maddox, commander, STB, 1st TSC.
Mother and son escaped the accident without injury. As for Farrell, he said he was just doing the right thing that day.
“It’s the human thing to do — to help someone else in their time of need,” he said.