For nearly 10 minutes on Monday, Officer Kevin Peck laid underneath a bus holding the hand of a young woman suffering from severe injuries after being hit by and pinned under the city bus.
Aryann Smith, 24, was crossing the street in West Valley City, Utah, on the way to see her son when a bus making a left turn struck her, trapping her under its front wheel.
Officer Peck was at the scene 30 seconds later, after a fellow officer who had just driven past the accident called for his help.
“At first, I couldn’t tell what was going on,” Peck told ABC News. “Then, I walked up to the bus and I saw her tennis shoe poking out from under the wheel.”
She was far enough under that he couldn’t see the rest of her body, so he got on the ground and crawled toward her to see if she was breathing and check her pulse.
“I had to go past her leg and I could see that her right knee and thigh were completely opened up, just peeled back. I could see right into her leg,” Peck said, adding that her shoulders were pinned so that she could breathe but couldn’t move.
Peck held her hand and asked her where the pain was, and then talked to her about other things to keep her conscious and keep her mind off the accident. Smith asked about her injuries, but Peck told her not to try to look down.
“She said several times that she was really scared, but she maintained her composure very well. She was pretty calm and asked me not to leave her,” Peck said. “I told her I would stay with her until we got her out.”
The fire department arrived in minutes and used wooden blocks and a hydraulic tool to lift the bus up a few inches so a firefighter could pull her out.
After she was taken to the hospital, Peck was left standing in the busy intersection, where, after a moment of standing in “a daze,” he picked up with his work and began directing traffic around the accident scene.
Smith is not expected to lose her legs, and Peck said the only thing that was broken was her kneecap.
He was able to visit her Wednesday in the hospital, where she has been moved from the ICU to post-op recovery.
“I guess she asked about me a few times before and after the surgery,” Peck said. “I’m glad I was able to see her. She has a few more surgeries ahead of her, but she is doing well, all things considered. The doctors say she should make a full recovery and be able to walk again.”
West Valley City Police Sgt. Mike Powell said the bus driver has been placed on administrative leave and was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. He added that the Utah Transit Authority has been cooperative with police and is conducting its own investigation.
Peck responds to a lot of accidents in the course of his duties, but said this one was different.
“At times, the job can become mundane. Then, every once in a while, something touches you more than the others. It reminds you why you became a police officer,” he said.
“All across the country, officers do things like this every day,” he added. “It’s part of the job.”