What would you do if you came upon the scene of an accident involving an injured child? Would you know what to do, and would you have the presence of mind to do it? 2002 Topeka West High School graduate Matthew Crawford encountered that very situation and leapt to action, using his skills and training to save the life of a severely injured child.
Last May, 12-year-old Rylee Robinson was struck from behind while out for an afternoon bike ride. The scene of the accident painted a tragic picture and the child suffered life threatening injuries. It was a sight that would be traumatic for anyone to witness, as the mangled bicycle lay haphazardly in the road and the windshield of the car told a tale about the severity of the impact. The young girl, whose father was deployed to Afghanistan at the time, clung to life as she lay in the road.
Fortunately for Rylee, Matthew Crawford, Staff Sergeant and Crew Chief in the Air National Guard, had recently received first aid training when he observed the carnage before him. Without hesitation, he put his life-saving skills to use, fashioning a tourniquet on the girl’s severely injured leg. This action was instrumental in saving her young life, as she was losing blood quickly. Rylee was rushed to the hospital, where the full extent of her injuries was revealed. She had suffered a severe head injury, a broken arm, and a leg injury so severe that it required partial amputation. The 7th grader was fortunate to be alive and faced an uphill battle to recover. But thanks to Matthew Crawford- not to mention a determined spirit and strong support system- she would survive.
Staff Sgt. Crawford was awarded the Kansas National Guard Distinguished Service Medal by Governor Brownback in a ceremony at Forbes Field on Saturday, December 7th for his part in saving Rylee’s life. Topeka Public Schools is so proud to count this hero as one of our alumnae, and we send our most heartfelt wishes for continued recovery to the tenacious young woman he helped save that spring day.