WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Staff Sgt. Matthew Pinkston was taking a leisurely morning drive with his wife Alexandra on Interstate 87 and noticed a passing motorcycle. Within 30 seconds, vehicles were stopping and Pinkston realized the motorcyclist had crashed and slid 300 feet into a steel guardrail.
Pinkston works in patient administration at Keller Army Community Hospital. He is not a nurse, doctor or even a medic, but he does carry the Army combat first aid kit with him wherever he goes. So, at the scene of the accident, he got out of his vehicle to see what he could do.
"I've rendered aid to people before in accidents," Pinkston said. "But never had I seen one this bad."
The motorcyclist, Billy Davis, was lying in a pool of blood. Pinkston said he could see that his leg was broken in several places.
"I went into my kit and got a tourniquet and put it around his leg," Pinkston said. "I was able to get his leg out from underneath him and tried to keep him conscious. The leg stopped bleeding but he was thrashing around and I just kept trying to talk to him and he kept grabbing me saying he knows he lost his leg."
In the meantime, Alexandra placed an orange triangle warning sign on the highway as she yelled for people to slow down.
"I couldn't believe people just kept going as fast as they could without paying any attention to me or the sign," she said.
Pinkston said a State Trooper arrived and asked him if everything was under control.
"It seemed like forever before the ambulance arrived, and when they did, they ended up evacuating him by helicopter anyway," Pinkston said.
Davis' leg was so badly mangled it had to be amputated. Since the accident, Pinkston visited Davis at the hospital and became acquainted with his son Dominique and fiancée Nikki Kimbrough.
"There were no words when I first saw him, just hugs and kisses," Pinkston said.
The accident occurred on May 19 and Davis was released from the Westchester Medical Center July 10. The staff at Keller wanted to give Pinkston an award, inviting Davis and his family to the ceremony July 13. Davis, Nikki, his mother Judy and son Dominique were there to watch Pinkston receive an Army Commendation Medal.
"I wasn't sure what got me through that morning," Davis said. "I'm convinced there was divine intervention at work. I asked Pinkston if anyone was there to help him. He said no. Pinkston is the major reason I am here now, for my mom, my son and my future wife. He kept me awake until the ambulance came and then I flatlined and woke up five days later."
Davis said he was honored to be there for Pinkston to watch him receive the award.
"We love you and your family," Nikki said to Pinkston.
Nikki said that after speaking with the sergeant after the accident she knew her fiancé would be OK.
"Matt and Alexandra's kids made him homemade cards and when they came to see Billy, I saw that their humor was a lot like our humor and I knew we will always be friends."