Soldier said he saved crash victim with ballpoint pen. He may have lied, authorities say

Army Sgt. Trey Troney, 20, stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, saved a man who was in a wreck along Interstate 20 with a Saints hoodie and a ballpoint pen when his first aid kit didn’t have the right tools for the job.
Army Sgt. Trey Troney, 20, stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, saved a man who was in a wreck along Interstate 20 with a Saints hoodie and a ballpoint pen when his first aid kit didn’t have the right tools for the job.

UPDATE Jan. 18, 2019, 6:30 a.m.: The U.S. Army Sergeant who told Texas state troopers at the scene of a highway wreck that he had saved a crash victim with a Saints hoodie and a ballpoint pen apparently made the story up, the Army Times is now reporting.

Sgt. Trey Troney’s superior officers at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, where he is stationed, are investigating whether he also lied to them about the wreck on Dec. 21 in the rural town of Sweetwater, on his way home to Mississippi for the holidays, the Times reported.

“The entire 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss team sincerely apologize to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Highway Patrol, the city of Sweetwater, Texas, the city of El Paso, the University of Texas at El Paso, the New Orleans Saints, the local and national media and the American people,” Army spokeswoman Maj. Allie Payne said in a news release.

According to Army Times, Lt. Bryan Witt of the Texas Department of Public Safety also said they couldn’t find “any evidence through our investigation that his story was accurate about the first aid he talked about.”

Troney originally said that could make out the silhouette of the driver, slumped over the steering wheel of the gray pickup as he made the 1,085-mile drive home, so he stopped, according to an Army news release.

The man inside the truck, identified by the Army as Longview, Texas resident Jeff Udger, had a bloody head wound, and was still conscious enough to jokingly resist when Troney took off his hoodie and started to wrap it around Udger’s head to stop the bleeding.

“Well, this is Cowboy country, so I don’t know how I feel about you wrapping me up in a Saints hoodie,” Udger told Troney, according to the original release.

Udger passed out from blood loss as Troney walked back to his Jeep to see what kind of first aid supplies he could use to help. Meanwhile, first responders were on their way to the scene in the town just outside Lubbock, according to Army Times, and Troney realized that Udger had a collapsed lung.

Troney had just completed a rotation at the Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., where he learned combat first aid, the release states. He also had a needle for chest decompression in the Jeep.

Chest decompression is an emergency procedure where a surgeon (usually) shoves a needle down through a patient’s breast plate and into a lung. The needle isn’t filled with medicine, though — it simply allows for airflow into the damaged lung, so the patient can breathe while responders address other trauma or transport the patient to a medical facility, according to the National Institute of Health.

Just one problem: the needle in Troney’s Jeep wasn’t long enough to reach Udger’s collapsed lung once it got inside Udger’s chest cavity, Army Times reported.

So Troney scrambled, and improvised. He took the plastic tube out of a ballpoint pen, emptied it out and attached it to his needle, according to the news release.

“I took the (needle) and put it right in the hole and kind of wiggled [the pen] in with my hand in between the ribs and you just started to see the bubbles come out of the tip, and I was like, ‘OK, we’re good,’ ” Troney said, according to the Army news release.

Troney worried that he might get sued if he made a mistake during the ordeal, the Army release said. Instead, Udger praised Troney’s actions and told the Army that his doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

“In an urgent situation [Troney] showed amazing patience and continuous care,” Udger said, according to the release. “He kept talking to me and acted as if the situation was no pressure at all.”

“I was glad I was in the right place at the right time,” Troney said, according to the El Paso Times.

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.