By Diane Turbyfill, The Shelby Star
A man said his military training kicked in this week when he witnessed a head-on collision.
Staff Sgt. Cory Hinkle watched as two cars collided Monday evening on College Avenue near Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport.
He pulled over and saw one of the drivers struggling to get out of her car as gasoline poured onto the pavement.
Hinkle said he and Brandon Foster, also a military man, helped the woman as her broken ankle forced her to fall back into her car.
The men placed the injured woman on the grass as her car caught fire.
Hinkle feared the stranger would be injured by flames or debris, so he used his body as a barrier to shield her from it.
“I’ve been in the military for 15 years. It’s instinct for me,” he said.
“I made the decision right then that if something came off the car, it’d have to go through me first.”
Thankfully, the worst injury he got was a bruised ankle from something off the car striking it.
As the dust settled at the scene, Hinkle learned the woman’s name was Brandy Guin.
In the heat of the incident, Guin, of Gastonia, yelled about her children.
“I thought, ‘Oh God, there’s kids in the car,’” Hinkle said.
When he looked in the backseat, Hinkle was relieved to see two empty car seats.
He later learned Guin was on her way to pick up the children when she was hit.
Hinkle called Guin’s husband to let him know about the crash. He later texted to check up on the woman.
Guin suffered a broken ankle and a fracture in her face.
Her husband later contacted Hinkle and asked if he would come for a visit at Carolinas HealthCare System Cleveland in Shelby.
He obliged and arrived with a teddy bear outfitted in camouflage.
“It was very emotional. He and I were crying, and my whole family was,” Guin said.
Foster also reached out to Guin and her family by sending roses.
A nurse at the hospital in Kings Mountain, Guin is still recovering, and Hinkle has returned to work at the National Guard in Charlotte.
Soldiers step up
A resident of Forest City, Hinkle makes the commute daily and was glad he could help when he saw what could have been catastrophic.
A husband and father of two daughters, Hinkle said his wife had no problem with him jumping in harm’s way to help someone.
“She has been with me the entire 15 years I’ve been in the military and said she wouldn’t expect anything less out of me. She said that’s one of the reasons she married me,” he said.
The crash happened around 5 p.m. on a stretch of road where the speed limit is 55 mph.
The drivers were going around 40 and 45 mph at impact, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.
The other driver was charged with traveling left of center.
“It takes a lot for a person to lay down their body and protect someone they’ve never met. There’s not a lot of people out there like him,” Guin said.
“Those soldiers know how to step up.”