PIQUA — Passionate. Motivated. The type of trooper everyone wants coming to their aid. Trooper Eric Devers with the Piqua Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) was recognized on Thursday afternoon for not only having those qualities, but for the actions those qualities inspired. Devers helped save a man’s life.
“He certainly didn’t think the actions of that day would come to this,” Lt. Joseph A. Gebhart of the Piqua Post of the OSHP said about Devers. “He’s just doing what he does.”
Devers received a Certificate of Recognition on Thursday afternoon, an honor not bestowed lightly within the organization, for his actions during an injury crash on April 28, 2015. The crash took place on Interstate 75 northbound, just south of Sidney in Shelby County, at approximately 3:23 p.m. A semi had driven through a guardrail and down a steep embankment off the right side of the road.
“There were no emergency vehicles that had arrived yet,” Gebhart said about when Devers arrived.
A shortened video of the event was shown during the ceremony, showing Devers running out of his patrol vehicle and down the side of the embankment to the driver, who was John Robert Depue, 53, of Charlotte, Mich. Depue became unresponsive and quit breathing shortly after the crash occurred.
While Devers was off camera, audio revealed Devers yelling, “Don’t die on me!” multiple times. In between counting chest compressions while doing CPR, Devers can also be heard emphatically saying, “Come on, come on, open your eyes!”
During the incident, Devers also gave instructions to a passerby motorist who stopped to assist in the incident. Once the injured driver begins breathing again, Devers is heard repeatedly saying, “Stay with me.” Then, with relief in Devers’ voice, the video ended with Devers saying, “He’s breathing.”
It took 12 minutes for medical personnel from the Sidney Fire Department to arrive to the scene, who took over helping the injured driver. The Sidney Fire Department then transported the driver to Wilson Memorial Hospital where he stabilized and was eventually released before going home and making a full recovery.
“Twelve minutes is a very… long time,” Gebhart said.
Family members, friends, and co-workers were present during the ceremony on Thursday afternoon along with Capt. Dan Lay, Piqua District commander, and Maj. Chad McGinty, commander of Field Operations for the OSHP.
“This is no light action,” Lay said of the Certificate of Recognition. Lay said it takes acts like this that are “life-saving” or “heroic” to be considered.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of you,” Lay said. “The passion that you displayed in saving this man’s life, the passion that you work with every day, contributes to this.” Lay stated that he has seen Devers at work and knows that Devers brings that passion to the job every day.
“I can’t thank you enough for bringing that to the Piqua Post,” Lay said. To Devers’ family and loved ones in the back of the room, Lay added, “You should very proud of him.”
“You didn’t do this for that,” McGinty said of Devers and the Certificate of Recognition he received. “You did it because of who you are and how you’re built.”
McGinty called Devers’ actions “incredible,” stating that Devers’ dedication and work ethic is “phenomenal.”
“He does it because he’s motivated inside,” McGinty said. To Devers, McGinty also added, “You motivate me.”
McGinty said that it is a tough job, but troopers like Devers give McGinty “hope and optimism” in the face of more than 90 fatal crashes that Ohio has seen this year so far.
“You approach every shift and every task with that dedication to duty,” McGinty said.
During the ceremony, Devers stood quietly to the side. Devers said afterwards that he was feeling good.
“I watched the video, and I didn’t know it took 12 minutes,” Devers said about what he was thinking during the moment of that crash. “It just seemed like an eternity,” Devers said. Devers said, while he was responding to the crash and helping the driver, he went into autopilot.
“I fell back on my training,” Devers said.
For Devers, to be able to help save this man’s life, “it was awesome,” he said. After medical personnel arrived on the scene, Devers was looking for information on the driver and saw pictures of the driver’s family and possible grandchildren in his wallet.
“That was a huge relief,” Devers said when he found out that the driver was going to be okay and able to go home to his family.
At the time of the crash, Devers had been a trooper for approximately a year. Devers said that he was always interested in going into law enforcement, but it was an older officer who inspired him to be a part of the OSHP.
“It’s actually an older officer I used to talk with … he always talked about how cool and how awesome the Ohio State Highway Patrol was,” Devers said. Since then, Devers had always wanted to be in the patrol.
“It is what I would expect from Eric,” Carol Devers, Eric Devers’ mother, said after the ceremony about his actions to help save another man. “He has never done anything halfway in his life … that’s just him.”
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall