SPRINGFIELD – A member of the Missouri National Guard was recently honored for saving the life of a Houston High School student following a traffic accident last September.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Roby Sisk, of Houston, was recognized at the statewide Aviation Safety Stand Down in Springfield for saving the life of a 17-year-old Lyndsey Tarrants.
On Sept. 18, 2009, Sisk and his daughters, Emma and Elayna Sisk, of Marshfield, were driving on South U.S. 63 when a sedan and a pickup truck collided in front of them. The force of the accident caused the sedan to overturn and Tarrants to be pinned between the vehicle and the ground.
“The accident happened right in front of us, resulting in the truck coming into my lane and then off the road,” Sisk said. “I was already braking, since the truck was in my lane. I really can’t tell you exactly why I stopped, other than I knew others were injured and hoped I could provide assistance. The impact was like an explosion as we watched.”
As his girls dialed 911, Sisk sprung into action. Quickly and deliberately the citizen-soldier used his combat life saver training to perform a series of actions that saved Tarrants’ life. He provided triage to all the victims, ensured control of the scene and directed the actions of other first responders until law enforcement and emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene.
Sisk noticed that Tarrants’ chest was barely moving and she was pinned in the vehicle. Her breathing had become very shallow and labored. He realized that the teenager’s face was pressed against the ground and she was suffocating and quickly dug a hole in the dirt with his hands to allow her to breathe. After three to four breaths, she regained consciousness, and Sisk comforted the seriously injured girl until medical personnel arrived.
“Without this act of heroism, this young lady would have become another fatality,” read the authorization for the medal signed by Gov. Jay Nixon. “Sisk’s quick thinking and selfless actions allowed him to make a lifesaving decision. His actions exemplify character and define the term, ‘Samaritan.'”
Another HHS student, A’ndrea White, died in the accident.
Sisk, son of Jim and Judy Sisk of Licking, said he simply did what he was trained to do and what was right.
“If it happens tomorrow, I will probably do the same thing again,” Sisk said. “I hope nothing like this happens again. Accidents do happen, and we live with them.”
After the accident, Sisk took his girls to visit Tarrants at the hospital.
“My girls were very upset from the event, and it made them feel better knowing she was alive and recovering,” Sisk said. “So we have kept track of her progress.”
While there, the families discovered they had mutual friends in the community.
When Sisk learned that he was being awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal, the event was made particularly bittersweet because Tarrants would be doing the pinning. Sisk’s daughters were also recognized for their part in the rescue. Each received a certificate of merit and a replica of the medal their father received.
“They were very brave and did what I asked of them without question, allowing the necessary aid to be rendered, and they had the sense to dial 911,” said Sisk. “They had to resist the urge to come to me and have the comfort of a parent as they watched, but could do nothing.”
Sisk also received a letter from David Eslick, event co-chair for the Everyday Heroes. Tarrants had nominated him for the award while she was in recovery.
“You are a wonderful example of the Everyday Heroes selflessly giving yourself to make a difference in other people’s lives and communities,” Eslick wrote. “Thank you for being an inspiration to other. I look forward to seeing your name listed among the many worthy nominees for this award.”
Also at the ceremony was Trooper Steven Crabtree, a sergeant in Sisk’s unit, Company C of the 1-106th Assault Helicopter Battalion. Crabtree is a classmate of Trooper Curtis Hubbs, who responded to the accident. Hubbs was unable to attend the ceremony due to work requirements.
“It was an honor to have him there and applaud Emma and Elayna for doing their part,” Sisk said. “It was a hard night.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Crabtree took the time to tell Emma and Elayna how important their roles were and that he was proud of them.
The Conspicuous Service Medal is only awarded to an individual who distinguishes themselves by exceptionally meritorious service in a capacity of great responsibility. The duty is of such character that the service performed has contributed in a high degree to the success of a command, installation or project.