MCAS CHERRY POINT - A Marine and his wife were chatting as they prepared for bed around 10 p.m. last Tuesday when they heard the sound of squealing tires not far from their home in rural Newport just east of the air station.
"It was an extremely loud screeching sound, followed by a few bangs and crashes," said Cpl. Joshua Murphy, an airframe mechanic at Cherry Point. "We stopped in mid sentence and just kind of stared at each other.
"My wife and I both knew it was an accident."
Murphy, a native of Colton, Calif., immediately told his wife to dial 911 before quickly grabbing his keys to drive toward the sounds of chaos.
According to police reports, a vehicle ran off the right side of a sharp curve on Lake Road, striking a street sign before impacting a tree and overturning onto its passenger side. No other cars were involved.
Murphy arrived at the scene and saw a totaled minivan less than a quarter mile from his home. It was pitch black outside, and he could only see what was in front of his headlights.
"You couldn't even tell where the front end was," said Murphy, adding that at this point, he was very concerned.
Scrambling across glass and rubble around the wreck, the Marine first checked the back of the vehicle to see if there were any children inside. There were not, but when he crawled inside, he saw the driver, a 19-year-old woman, hanging upside down and trapped between the driver seat and the steering wheel.
Murphy got out from the back of the vehicle and rushed to the driver side where the woman's hand was on top of the van outside of the window. He reached for her wrist to check her pulse but her hand slipped away. He then reached through the shattered windshield to feel her neck.
"She kind of started moving and moaning," he said. "I knew she was alive."
Murphy began clearing the debris around the young woman and checking her for injuries. He noticed blood dripping from her hair and quickly applied pressure to where he thought the wound was. As she hung upside down, she faded in and out of consciousness.
"I just kept talking to her and talking to her, trying to keep her awake," he said. Murphy ensured the woman stayed still while doing his best to keep her head elevated as well. He stayed with the young woman until paramedics arrived about 15 minutes later.
She was airlifted to Vident Memorial Hospital in Greenville, N.C., where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Going out to the accident was never a question, said Murphy. "I couldn't just sit there. Somebody had to see if she was ok."
Murphy's supervisor, Gunnery Sgt. Robert Cross said, "His situational awareness, personally and professionally, is above and beyond. It sets a standard for Marines and eastern North Carolina."
Murphy said the guys at work are calling him a hero, but he humbly tells them he's just doing the same thing any of them would.
"That's who we're supposed to be as a Marine," he said. "We're there to help and to protect."