View Full Version : Rescuers of motorists share bond as Marines

05-08-03, 11:05 AM
Rescuers of motorists share bond as Marines

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The two strangers hardly noticed each other as they jumped into the muck. They were too intent on pulling a pair of accident victims from a sinking car.

Only later, after their adrenaline had stopped pumping, did the men discover they shared similar pasts as Marines who had prior life-saving experiences.

One of the men actually caused the collision before he raced to help. Chesley Forest, 54, admitted he failed to yield the right of way the morning of April 28, when he drove his Oldsmobile into the path of another car, knocking it down a dew-slickened ravine into Mundys Mill Lake.

He doesn't even mind that he got a traffic ticket after an act of what some would call heroism.

The other former Marine, Tim Jones, 39, leapt down the same ravine, using some of his Navy SEAL training and mustering the same courage he used to force 15 Iraqis to surrender 11 years ago.

"You get to be qualified for a lot of life experiences in the Marine Corps," Jones said.

Two people were in the car as it slid into about 6 feet of water off Mundys Mill Road -- Marvin George Headley, 21, the driver; and Angelica Albaladejo, 17. No one suffered serious injury.

Jones was driving behind Forest. When he saw what happened, he shifted into park, left his vehicle's motor running and told a driver behind him to call 911.

By the time Jones reached the driver's side, Headley had broken the window out with his fist and elbow, having failed to open the door.

Jones helped pull Headley through the window, then the two pulled the teenager through the same opening. The top of the car was the only part of the vehicle above water, and that would last for only another minute or two.

"It happened so fast, man. When you hear people screaming and yelling, you want to help," Jones said.

Jones was so busy on the driver's side that he didn't notice Forest on the other.

Forest, too, had left his vehicle's motor running. He said he didn't stop to think about the quintuple heart bypass he received five years ago.

Forest said he went to the passenger side and unbuckled Albaladejo's seat belt, intending to remove her from the passenger side. But once unstrapped, she crawled to the driver's side to exit as muddy water filled the interior.

After climbing back up the ravine, with one shoe stuck in the mud below, Forest noticed Albaladejo's purse on top of the car. He retrieved it just before the car sank.

Everyone's breathing was returning to normal when a police officer approached Forest.

"I hate to do this," Forest remembers the officer saying. Then Forest received a ticket for plowing into the car at the intersection of Mundys Mill and Fitzgerald roads.

"When you're wrong, you're wrong," Forest said. "I'm sorry it happened the way it did."

Amid the confusion, Headley said he didn't have a chance to thank the two men. "But I'm grateful they were there," Headley said later.

Keeping calm under pressure is nothing new for Jones and Forest. During Desert Storm, Jones held 15 heavily armed Iraqis at bay, yelling in Arabic words that he has since forgotten, to surrender or die.

And just three months ago, Forest was visiting an Atlanta park when he saw a car roll out of a driveway, across a street and into a creek. Inside were two toddlers. A third child, age 5, was outside the car trying to stop it with his hands.

Forest jumped into the creek to pull the children out. The 5-year-old was up to his neck in water, somehow uninjured.

"I think my job here is to serve God and to serve others," Forest said.


Johnny Crawford/AJC
Tim Jones (left) and Chesley Forest jumped into the water behind them to rescue two people.