Staff Sergeant Todd Darter saw a crash in Elim, Georgia, on September 6. His friend and former soldier from the 3rd Infantry Division, Sgt. Mark Garcia, was one of the dead, but he didn’t know it at the time. News from the Army says that Garcia was driving his son home from football practice when another car cut into his lane as they went around a corner.
“I witnessed the woman stepping into the path of approaching traffic,” said Garcia. “I dove for cover, but she slammed into me instead.” When Darter saw the crash, he knew Garcia was a member of the National Guard who had just left active duty. When he saw that Garcia and his child were asleep from the accident, he went right to work treating them.
Darter jumped into action when the impact got close because he had been trained as an Army Combat Lifesaver. Darter said, “I was just going back through the steps of CLS.” “I was trying to get everyone to pay attention and begin evaluating.” At first, Darter couldn’t figure out what had happened to Garcia because there was a lot of blood on him but no clear cuts.
Thank goodness, another onlooker stepped in and saw a cut on Garcia’s left leg, which pointed to an arterial bleed. When Darter found out what kind of injury it was, he put a wrap on the leg and helped Garcia and his child stay calm while they waited for help. Darter’s boss, Capt. Justin Kintz heard him being quiet and asked what had happened that day.
When I asked him why he wasn’t saying anything, he said, “Why would I say anything?” Kistner spoke up. It wasn’t his desire for self-interest, happiness, or anything else that drove him. He wanted to help someone who was hurt.
After a flight and a few weeks in the hospital, Garcia and his son are both doing fine. Garcia said that since then, Sergeant Darter has been keeping an eye on her. That day, the Army gave Darter the tools he needed, though. He said, “CLS works,” even though everyone sees it as a break from life in the unit.
Army Times spoke with Deputy Commander of Maneuver Col. Jeremy Wilson, who said Staff Sgt. Darter has the battle mentality and real grit of a dogface soldier. “We extend our best wishes to Sgt. Garcia and his son for a swift recovery; we are proud to have him in our organization.” Currently, Kintz is working to ensure that the Army gives Darter the credit he deserves for what he did that day.