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By Jean Lotus
Two Army National Guard soldiers helped rescue two women from an overturned SUV, Sept. 14, after they witnessed an auto accident involving a funeral procession around 12:30 p.m. near the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Desplaines Avenue.
The soldiers had just picked up their lunch at Portillo's and were returning to their headquarters at the 404th and 405th Brigade Support Battalions in North Riverside when they saw a 2005 Chevy Classic enter the intersection on a green light and strike a 2005 Saturn Relay SUV being driven by a Chicago woman. The SUV fishtailed, crossing the yellow line and flipped over in the eastbound lanes of Roosevelt.
Spc. Johanna Hernandez of Des Plaines and Spc. Jovonta Devon Duncan of Plainfield jumped out of their vehicles and pulled the passengers out of the car, according to a spokesman from the National Guard.
"We heard the screeching of the tires and then impact of the vehicles colliding," said Hernandez in a statement. "Then we saw the SUV flipping, which is when we ran to go help."
"The car was smoking, so I knew we had to get the people out of the vehicle as soon as possible," said Duncan.
Luckily, the two had trained year-round in first aid and how to make decisions under pressure. "My military training played a big role in how I reacted," said Duncan.
Emergency personnel arrived shortly and two women were taken to Loyola University Medical Center Emergency Room.
Forest Park police said there was a break in the funeral procession and the SUV was attempting to cross the intersection against a red light. The driver of the Saturn declined medical attention. He was not given a citation.
The two soldiers were commended for their actions by brigade commander Col. Troy Phillips. They received the "commander's coin" for their actions.