A former NFL player and South Fremont High School grad helped rescue a semi driver Thursday after a train hit the rig around 6 p.m. along U.S. Highway 20 near St. Anthony.
Brandon Bair, who once played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles, was headed to his Henry’s Fork Homes business when he witnessed the crash involving fellow South Fremont grad Steven Jenson.
“My (modular home) dealership is right on the opposite corner of the freeway,” Bair said. “As I was about to turn into the office, I saw the semi pull out in front of the train. It pushed the semi down the tracks.”
Two South Fremont High School students and cousins, Ryker Simmons and Ian Simmons, also witnessed the crash. The two were headed to workout at a gym when they saw the accident.
“I crossed the tracks and was at a stop sign and looked back. I saw the two trucks come in, but the front one didn’t stop. (The train) just hit from the right side of the truck and kept going,” Ryker said.
Ian felt like he was in the middle of a bad dream.
“The semi got T-boned. It happened so fast but so slow at the same time,” he said.
Ryker jumped out of his car and ran to the where the truck’s hood lay. After not finding Jenson, Ryker sprinted down the road chasing after the still moving train. He met up with Bair who was pulling Jenson out of what was left of the truck’s cab.
About this time Lyndon Rinehart Jr. drove down U.S. Highway 20 toward his St. Anthony home when he heard a “boom” and saw flames. Rinehart came across Bair pulling Jenson from the wreckage.
“I ran over there too. Part of the roof of the cab was still attached, and I pulled the rest of it off, so Brandon could pull him out. As soon as we pulled him away, the whole cab went up in flames,” Rinehart said.
Having served in the Navy, Rinehart said his military training kicked in leaving him little time to worry about himself.
“I was in the military. You don’t think about those things,” he said.
Moments before Bair rescued Jenson, he was warned to stay away from the train. Yet, Bair heard Jenson screaming, and raced toward the train where Jenson was trapped inside his truck’s cab.
The father of four little girls, Bair knew he was taking a huge risk in helping Jenson.
“I thought ‘My family will be OK without me.’ I ran in front of the train, found the guy and unbuckled him. I got the steering wheel broken off and away from him. I calmed him down and said ‘We’ve got to get out of here, right now.’”
The pair went out the semi’s back window.
“No sooner had I got him out, the whole thing went up in flames,” Bair said. “The inside of the cab, for some reason, wasn’t on fire until we pulled him out of there, and then whole inside went up in flames.”
A devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bair says that he was placed at the scene for a reason.
“I thought ‘The Lord wants that kid alive. He has something to accomplish,’” Bair said.
Bair had witnessed Ryker lift up the truck’s hood and saw him chasing after the train.
“When I got done, Ryker was there at the scene,” he said.
Jenson remained very aware and cognoscente during his rescue, Bair said.
“I asked him who he was, his name, who his parents were. He could answer any question. I was telling him to calm down and to breath until the paramedics got there. He was worrying about what was happening. I told him to ‘just relax.’”
All athletes, Bair, Ryker and Ian say their athletic training may have helped them as they rescued Jenson. Yet, Jenson’s sister, Terance Bagley, says it all boils down to the men being decent human beings and putting Steven first.
“Brandon saved his life,” she said. “We’re super grateful to the people who helped. Thanks to all the parents who teach their kids to help other people.”
A Life Flight helicopter airlifted Jenson to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.
“He has a lot of different injuries. They’re starting to take him off of his sedatives a little bit. He’s stable,” Bagley said.
Bagley has personally thanked Bair and Ryker for their help. Bair says he was just at the right place at the right time. He insists that anybody would have helped, and that there’s nothing special about him.
“The Lord needed me to help him, and I happened to be there,” Bair said.
Those interested in donating toward a fund to help cover Jenson’s medical bills may do so via Venmo at @terance-bagley.