Indiana Guardsmen awarded for heroism

Award stems from response to 2011 crash

INDIANAPOLIS - Two Indiana National Guardsmen were awarded the Indiana Distinguished Service Cross on Saturday for their actions in responding to a 2011 car crash.

Sergeants 1st Class Michael Nice, Bunker Hill, Ind., and Dustin Gothrup, Yorktown, Ind., were attending a funeral for a fellow combat veteran when an accident occurred at a nearby intersection. They heard the crash while outside the funeral and immediately rushed to the scene.

Nice and Gothrup found that a vehicle had rear-ended another and overturned. The second vehicle was already in flames when they arrived.

Gothrup, a member of the 76th Infantry Brigade, began first aid on a woman in the overturned vehicle using his dress clothes. First Sergeant Mark Ireland assisted him.

At the same time, Nice, using fire extinguishers from local businesses, assisted in attempting to control the burning vehicle. Unfortunately, the fire grew out of control and both occupants perished.

Gothrup and Nice continued providing first aid to the woman from the overturned car until rescue crews arrived, and then helped stopped traffic for an emergency helicopter to land.

"I don't know how many of you have been around a car that is on fire, but that is just a terrible blaze and hard to put out because everything on that car is feeding those flames," said Maj. Gen. Lonnie Culver, 38th Infantry Division commanding general, who presented the awards. "They showed great personal courage and selfless sacrifice and calm under pressure when trying to rescue these folks."

Gothrup and Nice both said they were simply trying to do the right thing.

"Just a simple quick reaction, whether it's just calling the police or maybe grabbing a fire extinguisher can save someone's life. Even if you can't save their life, human beings should feel good knowing that someone cared enough to try to do something," said Nice.

"Hopefully other people see what we did, not just be recognized, but the fact to do it because it's the right thing to do," he added.

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