Heroes at Accident

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Heroes rose to challenge at scene of accident

After submitting the letter to the editor that appears on the facing page, Susan Bouchillon called us back to add specifics:

“I just wanted people to know how they ran that tractor down; it was circling around and would have run over my nephew again,” she said.

She was describing the nightmare that had occurred the week before when her nephew, Drew Bouchillon, was clipping pasture land with a large mower pulled behind his tractor. In what can only be described as a freak accident, one of the tractor’s big tires broke through an old cistern hidden by overgrowth. It so jarred the tractor that Drew was thrown through the cab’s back window and into the mower’s path.

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The bleeding and broken boy was alone and obscured by tall grass some minutes later when the first passersby came along the rural road adjacent to the pasture, a Panola County Sanitation Department truck driven by sheriff’s department employee Ricky Armstrong and manned by Terry Potts and Derek Joslin. They first noticed the driverless tractor and mower and then spotted Drew’s arm as he waved from where he lay in the grass.

That’s what confronted the three men when they ran to find the young man badly mauled and bloody but lucid enough to ask for them to pray with him.

In the midst of their shocking discovery, they realized that the driverless tractor’s continued forward motion, steered by the sloping terrain, would again place Drew in its path. Springing into action, Potts and Joslin ran to the tractor.

And this is what Susan Bouchillon most wants us to know: They had to approach the tractor from the side that did not have the steps leading up to the cab. There was nothing between them and the big tractor tire rolling behind them as they manhandled the door, breaking its hinges to get inside the cab to get the big machine stopped.

The Bouchillons — Susan, her husband Glynn and several family members — visited Sheriff Hugh “Shot” Bright at the Panola County jail Friday to express their appreciation to Armstrong, Potts and Joslin, for their heroic efforts that contributed to Drew Bouchillon’s survival. The men’s selfless heroism, Susan said, is the something good that she “truly has to believe … can come from something so tragic.”

Potts and Joslin are, of course, Panola County inmates, state trusties in the now-familiar, green-striped pants whose free labor has for some years provided county residents with lower bills for residential garbage pickup. When the program first began there were reservations among us about whether having the inmates moving so freely about the county would be a threat to public safety.

Ironic, isn’t it?