Quick-Thinking Marine Responds to Flipped SUV, Saves Lives of Mother and Young Children

November 25, 2019 Updated: November 25, 2019

It comes as no surprise that members of the Marine Corps are well-conditioned to respond in an emergency situation. That applies both on the battlefield and in civilian life. In the case of specialist Corporal Alexandra Nowak, it was on a freeway in Escondido, California, when a situation called upon her to react.

The Marine Corps is celebrating Corporal Nowak, who was off duty and driving along Interstate 15 to pick up her mother and daughter when she saw an SUV flip over after another vehicle crashed into it.

Nowak rushed to offer assistance, and it was her quick action that saved fellow mom Kyndra Luhr, who was traveling with her young children and a friend. “Before the paramedics or anyone got there, they stopped their car, ran over, and undoubtedly saved her life right there,” Luhr’s grandfather Brian Elmore told KSND.

©U.S. Marine Corps | Lance Cpl. Melissa I. Ugalde

When Nowak witnessed the terrible scene, her first thought was offering assistance to the victims. She first rescued Kyndra Luhr’s two children, a 9-month-old baby boy and 4-year-old girl, who were uninjured, helping get them out of the overturned vehicle. Then the Marine turned to their mother, whose right arm had nearly been severed by the crash.

Kyndra Luhr was in terrible pain and bleeding profusely. Novak told WSND that Luhr “was asking, ‘Am I going to die?’ and I remember saying ‘no, I’m not going to let you die.’” Nowak knew exactly what to do from her combat training and rushed back to her car for the tourniquet she had stashed there and didn’t hesitate for a second.

As she told the Marines website, “It was 100 percent Adrenaline. I remember just sprinting. I remember shaking the whole time, but I wasn’t nervous.” Nowak quickly wrapped the tourniquet around the wound and managed to stop the bleeding.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Piyawat Nandeenopparit

When Escondido first responders arrived at the scene, they credited her quick action with having prevented a potentially life-threatening outcome. “I never thought I would use that tourniquet other than marine combat training, but it saved her life,” Nowak admitted to WSND.

After the crash, Luhr was rushed to a local hospital for treatment. Now, Luhr’s family is raising money for a prosthetic arm, which they claimed was not covered by insurance.

As Luhr’s mother-in-law, who organized a GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $8,000, explained, “When I started this campaign, we were hoping that Kyndra’s arm could be saved. After several days of surgeries, etc., the Doctors decided that amputation was the best course for her long term quality of life.”

©U.S. Marine Corps | Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez

As for Nowak, while she’s glad that Luhr survived, she hopes she won’t be thrown into another situation like it right away. “I was courageous, yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Do I hope I have to do it again? No,” she told the Marines.

The Marine Corps news site explained, “Nowak acted as any Marine should act in a traumatic event. With quick thinking and implementing the skills taught to her within the Marine Corps, she became a hero to the three people saved that day and an example to all Marines within the Corps.”

For Kyndra Luhr’s grandfather, Brian Elmore, who has helped organize fundraisers for her medical expenses in his hometown of Alpine, California, the message for the Marine was “We love you and we can’t wait to meet you and thank you for supporting our family in this fashion.”

Nowak has also been rewarded for her action by the military, which presented her with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

©U.S. Marine Corps | Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez
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