Bulloch County Emergency services were dispatched at 8:50 am on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, to a car crash on Highway 46 West near the Candler County line. Georgia State Patrol trooper 243, Keith McCarty, was the first to arrive on the scene and requested Bulloch County Fire and EMS.
Trooper McCarty reported a Ford F250 pulling a cattle trailer had left the roadway, traveled down an embankment into the tree line and was on fire. The trailer was filled with cattle.
Heading to cattle sale with grandchildren
Steven Wilds was traveling with his three grandchildren from his farm in South Carolina to a cattle sale in Oak Park, GA. There were 12 cows in a trailer pulled behind his truck. Also in the truck were his three small grandchildren, who were along for the adventure. Little did they know what an adventure it would be.
Around the Candler County line, Wilds truck and trailer left the road and traveled into the woods. The truck turned onto the passenger side, but the cattle trailer stayed upright.
The truck caught fire on impact.
Good Samaritan notices accident
Immediately after the accident happened, a good Samaritan named Sam Pitout and his daughter Shannon Pitout were traveling back from their farm in Pulaski when Shannon noticed the cattle trailer in the woods.
Sam turned the truck around and saw smoke coming from the woods.
“You could not even see the truck. It was completely covered with trees and vines, you could only see a little bit of the trailer. I had to push through the vines and brush to get to the truck which was on its side. Looking at the truck, I assumed no one survived. I called out a couple of times and Mr. Wilds responded,” said Good Samaritan Sam Pitout, “I crawled onto the drivers side and with Mr. Wilds help we were able to push the door open slightly. Mr. Wilds then started handing me small children. That was a surprise. Another gentleman had stopped and followed me into the tree line. I handed him the three small children and he moved them to safety. The engine compartment was heavily involved with fire as we were doing this. I knew we did not have much time. Somehow we were able to get the door open enough to get Mr. Wilds out and to safety as well.”
The next decision was the cattle. Sam has been handling cattle his entire life and knew how difficult it would be to wrangle the cows up if they got out. When the cloth covering at the front of the trailer caught fire, he made the decision to let the cows out. There was one cow down, but with help from other strangers they got the cow up and all of them out.
Sam went to his home, which was just down the road, and got his horses and cattle panels to make a corral. Jay Clark, also from Register, brought his dogs. The two of them, with their horses and dogs and the help of other strangers, were able to get nine of the twelve cows corralled up and loaded onto another trailer.
Sam worked in law enforcement a few years while he lived in Colorado. He certainly has seen his share of craziness, but even he agreed not much matched this.
Good Samaritan was Heaven Sent
It is rare today for someone to even stop to help someone at an accident. But helping in such an extraordinary way made Mr. Wilds and his family feel that he was heaven sent.
“We owe Mr. Pitout everything. He is the reason our family gets to sleep at home tonight,” a very emotional Shelly Wilds, mother of two of the children in the accident, shared. “There are no words to express how grateful we are for him. God had his hands on my family and Mr. Pitout who saved them today.”
Bulloch County EMS evaluated all of the occupants of the truck at the scene. None were transported to EGRMC.
Sam was indeed heaven sent today.
“I didn’t think twice. It was just the right thing to do,” said Sam Pitout. “I hope that if had been me in that truck, someone would have done the same for me or my family.”
There are times when a Grice Good shout out certainly doesn’t match the good deed. This is one of those times. Regardless, we send our best Grice Good shout out to Sam and Shannon Pitout, Jay Clark, Trooper McCarty and all the strangers, firefighters, law enforcement and others that came to the aid of this family.
Stories like this remind us all why Bulloch County is such a wonderful place to call home.