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Fla. EMS providers help teens after father dies in crash

Samantha Diaz helped arrange a flight from Destin to Louisville with a private pilot who flew the two teens back to Kentucky in his jet

By Jennie Mckeon
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW, Fla. — After a father was killed in a head-on collision early Saturday morning heading back home to Kentucky, his son and son's friend were stranded in Crestview after being in the horrific crash.

Thanks to local efforts the two teens did make it home safely.

According to Cpl. Cary Hurst of Florida Highway Patrol, the 49-year-old father was heading northbound on Antioch Road around 4:50 a.m. with his son in the front passenger seat and son's friend in the rear right seat in a 2004 Acura when a 43-year-old local woman heading southbound in a 2004 Ford Ranger pickup truck crossed the double yellow lines and collided head-on with the Acura.

The father died at the scene while the two teens suffered minor injuries and were transported to North Okaloosa Medical Center for treatment. The driver in the Ford Ranger was transported first to North Okaloosa and later to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. Her injuries are unknown, Hurst said.

Charges are pending an investigation from FHP.

Paramedic field training officer Sgt. Samantha Diaz was at the crash. She stayed with the two teenagers as they were transported to the hospital. She eventually drove them to the Destin Executive Airport, where a pilot had agreed to fly them back to Kentucky on his private plane. Student paramedic Austin Turnbill helped with the teenagers, Vause said.

"There was a tremendous effort from Samantha," Hurst said. "She had just got off work and went back to the hospital."

Diaz, along with Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) staff and the American Red Cross, spent hours after the crash to coordinate a quick way home. Both of the teen's mothers wanted them to have direct flights home, which were not offered at VPS. The teens did not want to travel by car unless absolutely necessary, Hurst said. They arrived back in Kentucky by Saturday evening.

"She took them in her own car from Crestview to the Destin (Executive) Airport," added Hurst, who did not know the names of the father and two teenagers. "She picked up their luggage ... You've got an 18-year-old who lost his father. You want to make sure he's taken care of. She went above and beyond."

EMS Chief Tracy Vause said he was not surprised to hear his staff had gone beyond the call, but it still made him proud.

"We see examples like this all the time," he said. "When you see the things a paramedic sees every day, it's easy to get numb to it. Compassion is not taught in school. I'm not surprised to learn that someone on my staff exhibit such compassion. That human quality in our organization shines through."

Copyright 2017 Northwest Florida Daily News
All Rights Reserved

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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