A Boy Scout troop leader and former U.S. Army soldier likely saved the life of a UT student involved in a bicycle accident at the intersection of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton streets on the afternoon of June 27.
Patrick Clemens used his belt as a tourniquet to wrap the leg of nutrition freshman Haifa Abubaker after she and a CCI Manufacturing cement truck collided. Clemens’ training as a sergeant in the Army and as an Eagle Scout prepared him for the situation.
“There had to be 20 people out there and nobody was helping, nobody would touch her,” Clemens said.
When he heard the crash from the inside of the Jack in the Box where he was servicing the soda machine as a Coca-Cola technician, he turned to see Abubaker in the street after she was dragged 40 feet.
“It was in that moment that I truly felt called, and I heard a voice say ‘you can do this,’” Clemens said.
He then rushed to help Abubaker, who might have bled out otherwise.
“I had to keep pressure on the belt the entire time,” Clemens said. “I put her in the ambulance and she held my hands, and she didn’t want to let go. I told her I’d find her. After it was over I collapsed.”
Clemens said the afternoon of the accident and days following have been the most spiritual experience of his life. He has remained in close contact with the Abubakers and visited the hospital every day. He said the family, who lives in Pearland, near Houston, and is of Ethiopian decent, has “adopted” him. The family declined to comment on the incident.
She had her right leg amputated below the knee and is in fair condition, according to the University Medical Center Brackenridge.
The Austin Police Department considers the collision an accident and will not file criminal charges, said Austin Police Department spokesperson Cpl. Anthony Hipolito. It is unknown if Abubaker will press civil charges against the truck driver or CCI Management.
“It’s a tragedy, and we’re investigating it,” said Fred Coogan, an attorney representing the Abubaker family. “There are questions with regard to the accuracy of the police report.”
Arpeggio Grill, a restaurant near the intersection, has surveillance footage that owner Nasser Trosich said could be helpful in the different parties’ ongoing investigations. Trosich and his daughter Cassandra reviewed the blurry video on June 28 but are now having trouble accessing the file.
According to Nasser and Cassandra Trosich, the footage may contradict reports from APD officials who told The Daily Texan and other news organizations they believe Abubaker may have run a red light on her bicycle while the truck had a green light.
“All you see is a bike rolling and you see a huge concrete truck,” Cassandra Trosich said of the footage. “At 3:02 she’s going North bound on the edge of the street. He was going straight.”
Representatives from CCI Manufacturing did not return calls for comment.
In 2009, there were two collisions involving motor vehicles and bikes at the intersection of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton streets, according to APD. This is the first such incident since then.
“I just hope that the cyclists and the mopeds and the motorcycles look twice,” Clemens said. “Be safe. Look around, especially when there’s so many pedestrians and construction going on.”
Abubaker was planning to run a marathon this week. Instead, she is beginning to move her leg again, Clemens said. The troop leader trembled and tried to hold back tears as he recalled promising Abubaker that one day, the two would run a marathon together.
Printed on 07/07/2011 as: Former soldier rescues injured student