By Konstantine Fekos
If there’s one thing Alex Custead learned from his experience assisting Meadville man Travis Vickers from the scene of a crash earlier this month, it’s this — it pays to be at the right place at the right time.
“Your quick action probably saved his life,” Mayor Burt Waite told Custead, a senior at Cochranton Junior-Senior High School, in front of his peers. “Community members like yourself make this borough a great place to live.”
The school’s senior class applauded Custead as he received a certificate of commendation from Waite and Cochranton Police Chief Heather Beachy.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Custead smiled. “I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”
In the early, frigid hours of Jan. 7, Custead’s parents sent him out to the family barn to fetch a heater to thaw some frozen water lines.
School was out that day and the tractor wouldn’t start because of the cold temperatures, approximately 11 below zero at the time, according to Alex’s mother, Beth. It was the coldest day Crawford County had seen in decades.
On his way driving back to the house, Alex noticed bits of debris and a car bumper laying around Pettis Road and left his truck to investigate.
“I saw a guardrail that was all smashed, but was like,‘Where’s the car?’” he said. “There was a house there and a guy was stumbling around the driveway. I got him in the truck to keep him warm.”
Vickers apparently suffered a severe concussion and two fractured vertibrae from the crash, which occurred at about 5:45 a.m. He lost control of his vehicle, according to state police, and ended up in a ravine.
Alex tried to get emergency contact numbers from Vickers, who could only divulge his and his father’s names due to his disorientation.
“I took him back to the farm because I knew my parents would know what to do,” Alex said.
The Custeads promptly called 911 and Beth even accompanied Vickers in the ambulance to Meadville Medical Center where his father was waiting.
They would eventually find out that Alex not only helped a CHS graduate, but a distant relative as well. His grandfather and Vickers’ were cousins, according to Beth.
“He did a good thing, the right thing,” she said, watching Alex receive his certificate. “He’s a good kid.”
“We like to do this for kids who go out of their way to do something,” Beachy said. “It’s nice to focus on the positives.”
Custead’s recognition marks the second certificate given to a CHS student within the past year, the first being Jacob Simpson for assisting a Cochranton man who fell and broke his hip while working on a motor home.
The commendations are ultimately a reflection of the good inherent in all Cochranton youths, Waite said.
“It’s not a good thing to have to find somebody in a wreck, but I’d definitely help again,” Alex said.
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.