Co-op News

Okla. Co-op Workers Rescue Family in Wreck

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: February 18th, 2014

In one morning, Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s Clay Wilson had enough excitement to last a lifetime.

Lake Region EC’s Clay Wilson, Martin Walls and Jerry Latty (l-r) freed a family from a car wreck on an icy Oklahoma highway. (Photo By: Larry Mattes)

Lake Region EC’s Clay Wilson, Martin Walls and Jerry Latty (l-r) freed a family from a car wreck on an icy Oklahoma highway. (Photo By: Larry Mattes)

On an icy two-lane highway outside Taldequah, Okla., Wilson not only survived—unscathed—a head-on collision with another car, he then got out of his demolished truck to comfort the other drivers and passengers, one of whom was seriously hurt.

Wilson’s low-key manner came in handy in the moments after the Feb. 4 accident.

“It was icy and the weather was continuing to get worse,” Wilson, a fiber-tech worker, told “I forced my way out of my truck and checked on everyone and they seemed to be in good shape, except for the passenger in one of the cars.”

That passenger was a woman whose husband drove the car that hit Wilson’s truck. Their car spun back into the original lane, where it was hit again by another vehicle. The couple’s two young children were in the backseat.

Meanwhile, Jerry Latty, a drafter in Lake Region EC’s mapping department, and Martin Walls, the co-op’s director of operations, were in another truck stuck in the traffic jam. When they realized what was happening, they ran to help.

While Wilson grabbed a blanket to cover the victim, Latty unbuckled the children from their car seats. The two men pulled the youngsters out through a smashed window.

“The glass was shattered out of both passenger windows and the freezing rain was blowing in on the passengers. We put them in [Walls’] truck” to keep them warm,” said Latty.

The employees’ involvement didn’t stop there. Latty and Wilson stayed with the children—who weren’t hurt—while their mother went to the hospital and the father was busy with police. Once authorities completed their investigation, Walls took the young family to the hospital to reunite with the mother, who suffered broken bones but is expected to recover. He also dropped off the driver of the third vehicle at his place of work.

The co-op employees’ efforts did not go unnoticed. Later that day, Hamid Vahdatipour, general manager and CEO of the Hulbert-based co-op, received calls of thanks from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local emergency responders.

“I am so proud of them,” said Vahdatipour. “They went way beyond the call of duty to stabilize and control the situation. They helped out, and that’s what a co-op is for. It’s a nice message to send to everyone: That’s what co-ops are all about.”

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