English Teacher Assists in Roadside Wreck

It was unusually dark this morning, in spite of the rain and fog, as students and teachers were coming to school.

That may in part explain why nobody initially stopped to assist the participants of an accident on I-95 South. The wreckage consisted of a truck and car along the highway barrier.

There was one person, however, that did stop out of concern for the people involved in the accident. That person was Brian Tippy, an English teacher here at Staples High School.

“It took me until I was passing the truck to realize I needed to stop,” Tippy said. He stopped due to the unusual darkness and inactivity at the accident, leading him to believe that nothing had been done yet to help the victims.

His initial move was to ask the driver of the truck, who was standing outside unharmed, if there was anyone remaining in the somewhat destroyed car. The driver did not know, so Tippy, who has stopped several times at scenes of accidents, in particular when he noticed students involved, went over to the car.

There was, in fact, a man still in the driver’s seat. But the car was in such a position that he could not open his door, and could not immediately unlock the passenger’s side. So Tippy went around to the other side of the car to see if he could be of assistance.

“I kind of climbed up the concrete barrier, and then realized I was standing in gas,” Tippy recalled. The gas was diesel leaking from the truck and spilling over past the car.

“I didn’t want to be there (in the gas), I didn’t want Pierre to be there,” Tippy said, out of fear of a potential flame outburst.

A passerby had already called the police, so an officer pulled up around this time. Tippy and the officer were able to communicate with the driver, who identified himself as Pierre, through the passenger’s side window that was smashed during the accident.

The police offer then, with help from Tippy, was able to instruct Pierre on to unlock the passenger’s side door and the two men helped pull Pierre out through the doorway. At first, Tippy was hesitant to pull Pierre out because of the back pain Pierre said he was experiencing.

“I would’ve tried to pull him out away from the gas faster,” Tippy said, as he reflected on what he perhaps would have done differently.

But in the end, Pierre was safe and sound, with only minor injuries. Everything was all well and good.

Except for Tippy’s shoes, which as a result were drenched in gasoline. Hence, during school today, he was walking around without shoes.

So although he probably lost a pair of shoes during this process, he attempted to downplay the situation.

“I didn’t pull a man out of a smoldering wreck,” he said. Yet afterwards, he was “really jittery and got so much gas on my clothes that I had to open the windows so I didn’t faint from the smell.”

“If there was a fireball you could say I’m a hero,” Tippy said. “But I am not a hero.”