Longtime PE teacher Ryan Marketti was on his way to White Tail Ridge golf course to help coach the Plainfield North High School golf team when he witnessed a horrific accident: the car ahead of him stopped at Route 126 and Schlapp Road, and was struck by a semi as it proceeded into the intersection.
The crash, which happened around 3:30 p.m. Aug. 26, caused major damage to the car, and three of the five teenage passengers — including two District 202 studetns — had to be extricated from the wreck, according to school district spokesman Tom Hernandez. Luckily, no one was killed in the crash.
Read: Semi vs. Car Accident Closes Route 126; No Fatalities Reported
A few seconds after the accident, another Timber Ridge PE teacher, Brad Crackel, arrived on the scene as he headed home from work.
One passenger got out of the car and seemed to be wandering around, said Marketti, who taught at PNHS for four years and Ira Jones Middle School for three years before moving this year to Timber Ridge.
The teachers stayed with the students at the scene. Marketti tried to calm the passengers and made sure no one left before paramedics arrived a few minutes later. Crackel, who also works at Aux Sable Middle School, helped control traffic around the area until authorities arrived.
“At first, when I pulled up I didn’t realize that the emergency vehicles weren’t there yet,” said Crackel, a first-year teacher. “Then I saw Ryan and pulled over and got out to help.”
Marketti, who was involved in a serious car accident himself when he was 19, said he has no special training for such situations other than the CPR training he received as a teacher.
“I think natural instinct kind of kicked in,” he said. “Adrenaline just took over. We were just being teachers.”
Timber Ridge Middle School Principal Dean Kariotakis gave the two more credit than they were willing to give themselves.
“These are both excellent young educators,” Kariotakis said, agreeing that some people would have not stopped to help. “These are the kind of people we have in District 202, and the kind of teachers we want for our kids,” Kariotakis said.