A crashing sound awoke Jeremy Mullins early Wednesday morning. The time on his alarm read 4:05 a.m. and he reached for his phone.
The sounds of a car crash had disturbed the peace near his home on W.Va. 36 near Wallback in Clay County just six months before. But this was different.
"It sounded like a bomb going off. Ba-boom. There were a couple points of impact, hitting this, hitting that, and almost immediately, I heard the screaming. I knew. I just knew something bad happened," the 33-year-old West Virginia Air National Guard major said.
Before even leaving his bedroom, Mullins called 911. Teenagers were beating on his door, screaming for help. A girl was stuck.
He raced to the small creek steps from his house to see 17-year-old Kara Conley, of Bomot, pinned beneath a Ford pickup truck.
"When I got to her, she was still alive. She was kicking. She still had a pulse then."
"... That girl, five minutes, she was gone. The way she was pinned ... she suffocated. The way the truck was sitting, I couldn't get my truck to pull her off. We needed a crane. It would've torn her into two..."
"There's no way. I was looking at her -- I would've, if I could. But there's no way. I had to help the ones I could," Mullins trailed off.
Police said Isaac Murphy, 18, of Clay, was speeding in an extended cab Ford full of 10 other people when it ran off the road, crashed through a guardrail and landed on its side in a small creek, ejecting a handful teenagers onto the banks.
Some passengers were inside the truck and some in the open bed.
They ranged in age from 14 to 20 and injuries ranged from minor to critical, said Sgt. Michael Baylous, State Police spokesman.
Paige Johnson, spokeswoman for Thomas Memorial Health Systems, said three were taken to St. Francis Hospital but were discharged by 9 a.m. The others were taken to Charleston Area Medical Center's hospitals, where some remained under evaluation.
"There was another in the creek with her; he was face up. He was pretty bad off. One was ejected on the right side, and he was pretty bad off. The rest were on this bank," Mullins said pointing to the opposite bank bordering his yard. "All of them came out with some kind of injury."
Mullins said he called 911 three times, delivering status updates and requesting ambulances. He needed five; it took the ambulances 30 to 40 minutes to arrive, he said. The location made it difficult.
"With some of my medical training, I knew to assess the damage, help who you can, prioritize. I made a collection point on my porch and stuck eight of them there and said 'don't move' so they didn't hurt themselves anymore. Two of them I couldn't move because of their injuries," he said.
The mangled guardrail, a muddy creek and a mailbox smashed into pieces were the only remnants of the early morning crash. After three hours, the truck was removed. It's currently in the possession of State Police, said King Trucking & Wrecker Service.
Mullins' seven-month-old Redbone Mastiff sniffed the creek bank, where crews had spread a diluting agent on the spilled oil and gas.
"We have to clean up some of the oil spill and getting it from around the truck," said Greg Fitzwater, emergency services director for Clay County.
"In the accident a few months ago, the roads were slick. This ... this was uncalled for."
As crews left the scene, Mullins said he was taking some precautionary measures after what just happened.
"In the military, they want you to get checked out any time something like this happens. They're calling me in," he said. "You know, that road isn't forgiving. Obviously. This was one hell of an alarm clock."
130 minus 1
The Clay County High School community was grappling with losing one of its own just days before the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Conley, the would-be senior, was friendly, outgoing and loved photography. She was one in a class of about 130.