Nurse on scene discusses frantic moments after Hughson crash, including rescue of 3-year-old

etracy@modbee.comJanuary 29, 2014 

The woman who died in a fiery crash on a bridge north of Hughson was identified Wednesday by family as Chandra Barnard, a widow and mother of three.

Barnard’s youngest child, 3-year-old Jason, was pulled from his mother’s vehicle by a witness seconds before it became fully engulfed in fire.

For unknown reasons, Barnard’s Chevrolet truck drifted from the southbound lanes of Albers Road into the northbound lanes on the bridge that crosses Dry Creek and crashed head-on into a Ford truck Tuesday afternoon.

“I heard the sirens, and I always tell my kids, ‘Let’s say a prayer,’ ” said Barnard’s cousin Connie Millsap, who lives near the crash scene. “Never did I ever think I was saying a prayer for her. She was a beautiful person and very loved, and I miss her so much.”

She lost her cousin, who she said was more like a sister, but Millsap’s prayers were answered for Jason.

Jonathan Carroll and his wife were behind the Ford and narrowly missed becoming involved in the accident.

Carroll is an emergency room nurse at Emmanuel Medical Center in Turlock, worked for 20 years as a paramedic and at one time was a flight nurse for Medi-Flight.

He first checked on the driver of the Ford and saw that the cabin of his truck was intact. He then went to Barnard’s truck, which had started to smoke. He checked on Barnard and found she had no pulse. That’s when he became aware of Jason.

“I heard him kind of whimpering in the back seat,” he said.

He opened the truck’s crew-cab door and unbuckled Jason as flames rose from the center console and floorboards.

Carroll’s wife, Denise, took Jason and then another bystander held him while both Carrolls went back and checked one last time on Barnard. The flames quickly became too intense and all they could do was wait for for firefighters to arrive.

Barnard’s mother, Tammie Brumlow, said Jason suffered a broken collarbone. He is expected to be discharged from the hospital today and physically is healing, but Brumlow said he remembers everything about the crash.

“He knows what happened; he knows that his mom caught fire,” Brumlow said. “And his sisters are just beside themselves.”

His sisters, Amarra, 8, and Tehya, 11, lost their father in a 2006 motorcycle accident on Oakdale Road. Jason’s father is in prison, Millsap said.

The children will live with Brumlow in Jamestown, along with their uncle, Barnard’s brother, and his wife.

Brumlow hopes to talk to Carroll soon. “I would just like to express my gratitude for getting my grandson out, because if it wouldn’t have been for him, the baby would have burned up, too,” she said.

People on social media have hailed Carroll a hero.

“That didn’t really occur to me,” Carroll said. “I think anyone would do the same thing, I’m just glad I was able to be there to do it.”

Others who came on the scene helped as well.

Hickman resident Amanda Weimer said she held Jason for about 30 minutes while emergency personnel handled the fire and attended to the driver of the Ford, Cesar Guzman.

“He lay his head down on my shoulder and he was sobbing, but he was really brave,” Weimer said.

The CHP gave her a first aid kit and she cleaned his bloody nose.

Two men helped pull Guzman from his car and away from the growing fire.

Guzman suffered major injuries in the collision and was taken to Memorial Medical Center. He was listed in good condition Wednesday.

A fund to help cover Barnard’s funeral expenses has been established at Bank of the West under the name Chandra Barnard.

“I just want people to know that she truly loved her children and that she will never be forgotten and we will never let them forget her,” Brumlow said.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at etracy@modbee.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter @ModestoBeeCrime.

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