A sailor who helped extricate a mother and her three children from an overturned minivan following a crash in Chula Vista was honored by the Navy Thursday for his quick thinking and heroic actions.
Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW/AW) Michael Sanders, a sailor assigned to USS Vandegrift, received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during an awards ceremony on board the ship at Naval Base San Diego.
The award exemplifies courage but, according to Sanders, he just did what he had to do to help the injured family during that crash on Oct. 14.
“It means a lot. I’m happy that the Navy is recognizing me, but any day, any time of the week, I’d do it for anybody, any family, anywhere,” Sanders told NBC 7 San Diego.
The collision, which involved a mother and her three children in their family minivan and a small special-needs transit bus, happened at East Palomar Street and La Media Road on Columbus Day.
When the vehicles collided, the minivan overturned, and the mother and her kids – ages 1, 4 and 11 – all sustained serious injuries. One passenger aboard the bus suffered a minor injury.
Sanders had the day off work and said he was jogging with his wife when they happened upon the accident. He rushed to the overturned minivan and started working to free the mother and children from the wreckage.
The sailor also had another bystander to remove his shirt and apply pressure to a head wound sustained by one of the children. Sanders and his wife stayed on scene until emergency crews arrived, and helped calm the kids while waiting for help.
Sanders – who has spent the past 10 years in the Navy – said he credits his Navy training for teaching him how to think on his feet and respond quickly to an emergency situation.