|Officer Received Commendation for Life Saving Efforts|
|Written by Nancy Bowman|
|Wednesday, 18 September 2013 00:00|
Tipp City Police Ptlm. Jeff Perilman was awarded a department meritorious service commendation for life saving efforts made at the scene of the Aug. 29 multi-vehicle crash and fire on Interstate 75 in which two truck drivers were killed.
Perilman’s actions that night “undoubtedly lowered the death toll,” Police Chief Eric Burris said Monday.
“He was able to pull several people through the windows of a vehicle that was involved due to the doors being pinned, all the while the fire was spreading and the victims were in shock,” Burris added.
The chief said Sgt. Marc Basye, who had been told by several firefighters that police pulled people from vehicles before the fire department arrived, brought Perilman’s actions to his attention.
Perilman said he was surprised to receive the recognition for his action. “I was just doing my job,” he said.
The accident occurred around 9:45 p.m. on the interstate near the southbound entrance ramp from West Main Street.
Perilman was on duty that night and had gone to the entrance ramp after being told vehicles slowed by construction on I-75 were exiting the interstate by driving up the entrance ramp. Hoping to divert collision on the ramp, Perilman parked his cruiser near the top of the ramp with the emergency lights activated.
“After sitting there for a bit, I heard the gut-wrenching, unmistakable sound of a vehicle skidding with fully locked brakes. I looked up to see a semi going far too fast to stop for the traffic stopped in front of it, and nothing much that could be done about it,” Perilman said.
“When the vehicle impacted, it was like a bomb going off. Before I could even radio out my emergency traffic, the entire thing was entirely engulfed in flames. The road where the semi hit to where it had come to a final rest (about 100-200 feet) was on fire,” he said.
Perilman moved his cruiser closer to the interstate and called a signal 99 on the radio, prioritizing the radio channel for sole use by those responding to the incident.
He saw two semis in flames and what appeared to be a car under one of the semis (later found to be part of the semi) and heard continuous explosions coming from the wreckage.
Perilman described what happened next as follows: “The vehicle I remember going to first was a van that had been fully impacted from the rear by the third semi involved. Both elderly occupants were inside, but no doors worked due to the damage it sustained. I broke out a window and found their injuries to be minor. I asked them to climb out of the window, but quickly realized they were in shock, and just couldn't move well or comprehend what I was telling them. I ended up having to pull them out of the van and carry them over to a safe part of the highway.
“I went to other vehicles and helped people to safety, but most people were able to walk on their own accord after getting out of their respective vehicles. After this, as EMS and fire personnel began arriving, I began giving them briefing on the scene so they could do their part of the job in the safest way possible,” he said.
Perilman said the scene when played back in his mind is still “surreal.” He has worked other fatal accidents, but said he never saw the kind of emergency response observed during this incident. He said he was told by fire and EMS workers with decades of experience this was the worst crash they’d encountered in their careers.
Perilman, who had no law enforcement experience when he was hired in 2006, praised the training he’s received from training officers Atkinson and Rismiller; Burris, who was his sergeant; and Sgt. Greg Adkins who also responded to the crash scene at his request.
“I would like people to know that I work with the best group of men and women that I could ask for. There are no individual achievements, as we are one team,” he said.