It was the middle of the shift for Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Cody Enloe when he got a call for a car accident on Highway 259, deep in the rural part of the state. A pickup truck had flipped over, and the driver and her children were trapped inside. It was Valentine’s Day.
Enloe raced over in the dark at about 6 p.m. He saw a silver pickup truck that had veered off the road, flipped two times and come to a rest upside down in a ditch that was filled with about 2½ feet of water, he said.
Some passersby had already helped the driver out of the truck, and she was hysterical, shrieking that her children were inside.
Enloe, 26 and a first-year trooper, said he could hear the children screaming. He and two volunteer firefighters pried the car doors open using Jaws of Life, and Enloe climbed into the back seat, which had taken on water.
Enloe, who had training as an EMT and firefighter, cut the straps of a car seat and freed a 2-year-old girl. He quickly passed her off to emergency workers and went back in the knee-deep water for a crying 1-year-old boy, whom he also pulled out and handed off.
“The whole time we had been advised of two kids,” Enloe said. “We weren’t able to get a lot of information from the mother because of her level of panic and shock. She was in the ambulance being treated.”
Emergency responders and bystanders breathed a sigh of relief once the two children were out, Enloe said, and some started to walk away from the scene.
“I kind of reverted back to my training, and something told me to check the vehicle one more time,” Enloe said. “I crawled back into the truck.”
Using his flashlight, he saw another car seat, a third one — but this one was partially submerged, and he realized the baby’s face was underwater. There was no sound.
“It was honestly a very terrifying experience,” Enloe said. “You didn’t hear anything coming from that car seat.”
Enloe grabbed the seat, pulled it out of the water and sliced off the car seat straps with scissors. He yelled out for EMTs to be ready for an unresponsive baby.
“I could tell the infant was not breathing,” Enloe said. “He had already started to turn blue from lack of oxygen.”
Enloe flipped the baby over and delivered a back thrust. Right away, he said, he saw water come out of the infant’s mouth and nose.
He handed off the baby, who was 2 months old, to emergency medical technicians. They began CPR. It worked. By the time a medevac helicopter came down to take the baby to a pediatric ICU, the infant was breathing and crying.
“When all the kids left, I knew they were all breathing,” Enloe said. “It was definitely a sense of relief.”
Enloe talked to the mother later, when he visited the family at the hospital and brought the kids teddy bears. The night of the crash, the mother had been with her children at a relative’s home in southeast Oklahoma, and they were heading back home Valentine’s Day evening to her house, about 70 miles away, where she lives with her husband and children, he said. She fell asleep at the wheel while she was driving 55 mph, Enloe said, which caused her to veer off the road and the truck to flip.
After a short hospital stay, the mother, who could not be reached for comment, and her children were released from the hospital and went home. All are doing well, Enloe said.
He said it was only after he knew everyone was safe that he thought of his own 3-year-old son. “It was easy to imagine it being my son, having him be so close in age," Enloe said.
One of the other law enforcement officers on the scene, McCurtain County Sheriff’s Deputy Curtis Fields, wrote an account of the rescue that was posted on Facebook by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, along with a dash-cam video of the incident. Fields wrote that Enloe remained calm and competent during a time of panic.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Trooper Enloe saved the lives of those three children,” Fields wrote.
Fields added that he has “seen many horrific, and incredible things in my career. The professionalism and competence that was exhibited by Trooper Cody Enloe on this day will be something I remember for the rest of my life and was nothing short of incredible.”
Enloe said he has an ability to “overcome the adrenaline” and remain clearheaded in chaotic situations, something he attributes to his training.
“We get a lot of negative attention being in law enforcement,” he said. “When you have a day like this, it makes the job worth it.”