Shocking dashcam video footage shows a volunteer firefighter saving a 4-year-old after she fell out of the back of a church van driving on the highway.
Ryan Ciampoli, an EMT and volunteer firefighter, was driving down Highway 65 in northern Arkansas when the rear door of the church van in front of him swung open. The volunteer firefighter watched in horror as a 4-year-old girl clenched to the handle of the rear door of the van as it continued driving down the highway.
Unable to hold on any longer, the little girl fell from the rear door and tumbled along the highway into traffic. Ryan Ciampoli quickly stopped his vehicle, jumped out, and ran to rescue the little girl. Ciampoli held the little girl close until she regained consciousness and began to scream for her mother.
Ciampoli told the Washington Post that he swerved into traffic to alert drivers behind him to the problem.
“I saw it happening and it blew my mind, it’s like I wasn’t even seeing what I was seeing,”
He pulled over and ran to the girl, who, he said, was initially unconscious.
“I knelt down and started talking to her. She put her arm up like, ‘Get me.’”
Moving her is not a typical first responder’s response to the situation.
Ciampoli wanted news outlets to note his response to the situation was not a typical response. In this type of situation, first responders do not usually move the body. Moving the body poses the risk of making injuries worse. Ciampoli, however, did not have a choice, as the 4-year-old was unconscious on a highway. Not moving the girl posed more of a risk than moving her.
Ciampoli wanted the distinction made so anyone waiting for help after an accident knows not to move the injured individual unless necessary.
“Obviously, you want to leave her laying there, you know, if she’s not in danger, but we’re in the middle of a state highway so I couldn’t leave her just laying there.”
Covered in blood, the 4-year-old had a broken jaw, broken teeth, and face lacerations.
In the dashcam footage, viewers see the volunteer firefighter kneeling in the road with the young girl in his arms for a moment before removing her from the highway.
“She started kicking and screaming once that adrenaline kicked in and asking, ‘Where’s my mommy? I kept reassuring her — ‘You’re going to be OK.’”
The parents of the 4-year-old told KHBS she needed jaw surgery but should make a full recovery. Police believe the little girl unlatched the door while the church van drove down the highway.
According to the Washington Post, other children on the church van alerted the driver to the problem. The driver pulled over in a parking lot after learning the girl fell out of the back.
According to CNN, police did not press any charges against the driver of the van for the incident.
Ciampoli even attempted to track down the church van.
Ciampoli asked a Good Samaritan who also pulled to help attempt to track down the van. However, the church van did return to the scene. According to ABC News, a representative for the Christian Life Center Church said they would never drive a Ford F-350 van again.
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