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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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DI saves life during coffee break

By Cpl. Jess Levens | | May 13, 2005

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- An M Company drill instructor became a local hero May 4, when he saved a man's life in a San Diego McDonald's drive-thru line.

Staff Sgt. Jaime Nicholson was on his way to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to join his platoon for the Crucible when he stopped at the McDonald's on Balboa Drive to grab a quick cup of coffee.

"I was about to order when I heard the lady say, 'Oh my God!' over the intercom," said Nicholson. "At first I thought someone burned the fries or something. Then I heard screaming."

The man at the pay window had dropped some change and bent over to pick it up, but he left his foot on the accelerator. The car jolted into the restaurant wall and its door closed on the man's head. The car was at a standstill, grinding against the restaurant wall.

"When I got out to see what happened, I noticed the engine was (racing)," said Nicholson, back at the McDonald's for a burger days after the incident. "I broke the car's back window and put the vehicle in reverse (to back away from the window), then park."

The injured man was unconscious.

"His head was purple and his eyes were bugged out," said Nicholson. "I thought he was going to die."

Medics arrived on the scene, pulled the unidentified man from his sedan and rushed him to Scripps Memorial Hospital. With emergency care, the victim survived.

Nicholson quietly went to Camp Pendleton after the incident.

"When I got there, the chief (dill instructor) asked why I was late," said Nicholson. "When I told him what happened, he was like 'Wow.' I guess that was a good excuse."

Nicholson's deed will likely merit the Navy and Marine Corps Lifesaving Medal.

"It's not what you expect to find at the McDonald's drive-thru, but he's a hero," San Diego Police Department Sgt. Andra Brown told television reporters about Nicholson. "He saved a life today."

Nicholson remained humble about the situation: "I saved a man's life, and that feels good. But I just reacted. I think being a Marine and a drill instructor helped me in this situation. I am used to thinking on my feet."

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