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Special Agent John DeJohn

Homeland Security Investigations, TX

On October 10, 2016, Special Agent John DeJohn was driving north on State Highway 35 when he approached the exit for Aransas Pass and observed a dust cloud, debris, and skid marks, indicating there had been an automobile accident. He immediately pulled over and was accompanied by other drivers as they approached the scene of the accident. The group located a vehicle that had left the highway, rolled through a deep ditch and a barbed-wire fence, and had come to rest on its passenger side. They saw that the vehicle was on fire, and a young woman was pinned under the vehicle screaming for help. Her mouth was bloody, with teeth knocked out, and her leg appeared to be broken.

Special Agent DeJohn took charge and instructed an assisting individual to call 911 and requested that another bystander retrieve a fire extinguisher. Special Agent DeJohn and another man were able to lift the vehicle with their bare hands, while two others pulled the young woman from underneath the wreckage and moved her a safe distance away from the flames. The young woman told her rescuers that her sister remained inside the automobile. Special Agent DeJohn returned to the vehicle and observed an unconscious female belted into the driver's seat. As the fire flared and spread, he unsuccessfully attempted to open the driver's door, or reach the driver's seat belt.

As smoke filled the cabin, Special Agent DeJohn urged three individuals to assist with pushing the burning vehicle back on its wheels. Once the vehicle was upright, the driver's side door was operable, and they were able to pull the driver from the vehicle to safety. The vehicle was then consumed completely by fire. After the driver regained consciousness, Special Agent DeJohn calmed her by communicating that her sister was okay and had been moved to a safe place. The victims were subsequently treated by responding fire and emergency services personnel.

The actions of Special Agent DeJohn demonstrated extraordinary bravery and a willingness to save the lives of others, without regard to his own personal safety.