Handing off two toddlers to other emergency responders after he cut them free from their car seats, Cody Enloe went back into an overturned and partially submerged pickup.
There were no more screams from inside. But the 26-year-old Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper also knew he didn’t have an official head count of the truck’s occupants. So Enloe ducked in amid the darkness, and his flashlight’s beam caught a heart-wrenching sight: a 2-month-old boy was upside down, with his head partially under water.
“I don’t even know the words to explain it,” Enloe said Tuesday in a telephone interview with the Tulsa World. “It’s very terrifying to see another car seat under the water, knowing you can’t hear any sounds coming from the car seat.”
Emergency personnel had responded Thursday evening to U.S. 259 near Harris in McCurtain County on a report of a single-vehicle rollover. The three children and their mother are now home safe with minor injuries, Enloe said, but emergency crews weren’t certain that would be the outcome.
After using the Jaws of Life to pry open enough space to enter the pickup’s cab, Enloe found the first two children — a 2- and a 1-year-old — strapped in back facing upward.
As he frantically worked to remove the upside down 2-month-old, he noticed the infant’s face was blue. The trooper also didn’t feel any breath when he put his hand to the infant’s face.
He said he immediately began performing back thrusts, which made the infant expel water from his mouth. He passed him off to medical personnel, who a few minutes later had him revived and breathing.
“That was the most relief was hearing all three kids screaming,” Enloe said. “It was actually a great sign, and a great relief to me.”
McCurtain County Deputy Curtis Fields in a statement said he has been in law enforcement in Oklahoma for a decade, witnessing many horrific and incredible happenings.
“The professionalism and competence that was exhibited by Trooper Cody Enloe on this day will be something I remember for the rest of my life and was nothing short of incredible,” Fields wrote. “Trooper Cody Enloe, while being a first-year trooper, performed with all the skill and professionalism of a veteran officer.”
Enloe said the children’s mother fell asleep at the wheel, which resulted in the truck rolling over twice and coming to rest upside down in a low-lying area that retains shallow water. He said no drugs or alcohol were involved; it was a case of inattentive driving.
He said the mother — who went into shock — was able to crawl out through a broken window with minimal help from a good Samaritan. But it was impossible for other motorists who stopped to get to the children because the truck cabin was crumpled.
Before becoming a trooper, Enloe said he was a firefighter and paramedic. So he carries that medical training with him and experiences working other traumatic situations to keep calm in such dire circumstances.
Enloe and the highway patrol expressed thanks for the other responders, including Haworth Volunteer Fire, Idabel Fire, McCurtain County emergency medical services, wrecker owners and motorists who stopped to help.
“This couldn’t have went as good as it did just by myself. Absolutely not,” Enloe said.