GRANITE CITY — On Feb. 18, Brad Stone made another trip to Hawaii.
This time, it was a trip the Granite City resident will never forget.
“It was pretty crazy,” Stone said.
A member of the Air Force Reserves, Stone rescued five members from a helicopter that crashed into Pearl Harbor. One of the victims died four days later.
“We’re always trained for the unexpected and the worst-case scenario,” Stone said. “I have a lot of medical training because I’m a nurse on the civilian side and I did air medical evacuation. I’m a flight nurse in the Air Force, so we’re always training to do cardiac arrest procedures and stuff like that.”
In Hawaii for the third time, Stone was off duty and planned on doing some sightseeing before learning of the helicopter crash at Pearl Harbor that included a pilot and a family of four from Canada.
“It was our last day in Hawaii, so we thought we could visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial,” Stone said. “A friend, which was one of our crew members, and I, got there about 10 o’clock and we were waiting for our ferry ride to the USS Arizona Memorial. We got a cup of coffee and we were sitting on the bench waiting for our ferry ride. All of the sudden, we heard a loud noise. The best way to describe it is it sounded like a loud clap. We didn’t know what happened. So we stood up and turned around and started walking over there because we were seeing a bunch of people standing by the water. We got about halfway and we heard a lady say the helicopter fell out of the sky. So at that point, we took off running and jumped over a little wall and got to the edge of the water. The helicopter was turned on its side and some of the passengers were swimming frantically and yelling.”
Stone jumped in the water and swam for help.
“I think it might have been the pilot over to the edge of the water while the female passenger started yelling at her son,” Stone said. “Her son was still stuck inside and he couldn’t get out. So then myself and a handful of other guys, four or five other guys, each took turns to try to dive down to get him because at that point, the helicopter had sunk about 15 feet deep. It took about 10 minutes to finally get him free. Once we did get him free, we got him to the edge of the water and we got him to the shore and we started doing CPR on him for 5-10 minutes.”
The boy, 16, was later taken to the hospital before he passed away Feb. 22.
When Stone returned home to Granite City the next day, he got plenty of congratulations from his friends and family members, including his wife, Erica, and his two sons.
“I’m not used to this kind of attention,” Stone said. “It’s all over Facebook.”
Stone graduated from Granite City High in 2004. He competed with the school’s tennis team and was a state qualifier in doubles in his senior year. Stone also competed in cross country.
After two years at McKendree, Stone decided to concentrate in nursing. So he transferred to the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2009.
Stone works as a nurse at the John Cochran Division of the Veterans Administration Hospital in St. Louis. He’s been a member of the Air Force Reserves since 2012.
“I really like what I do,” Stone said. “It’s a good job.”