Nurse Greenfield finds a harsh lesson in a fatal crash
Roxann Greenfield, shown here at work, was honored in April for her efforts to save a victim of a fatal car accident she saw on her way home one afternoon three years ago.
Three years ago, Roxann Greenfield saw a car slam into another on U.S. Route 28 – a drunk-driving crash that would ultimately claim a life.
Greenfield didn't know the trial and heartbreak that would follow in the impact's wake. But she knew what she had to do.
Last month, Fauquier Commonwealth's Attorney James Fisher recognized Greenfield, a registered nurse at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic and Spine Center, among a group of civil servants lauded on Victims' Rights Week.
“We're grateful to them for their service and indebted to them for their willingness to go above and beyond," Fisher said.
National Crime Victims' Rights Week honors both people who step up to defend those hurt or killed in crimes.
Greenfield was recognized for her actions following the July 31, 2011 car crash that killed Phra Chom Taengsap, 43, a Buddhist monk from the Wat Lao Buddhavong in Catlett.
The driver of the other car, Miguel A. Velazquez-Vite of Culpeper, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter through driving under the influence.
For Greenfield, the day started like any other. After a long of day of working on their newly purchased house, the nurse and her family packed up their paint brushes and headed for home.
As they drove up Route 28, Greenfield saw the car in front of them swerving, going from the field on the right side of the road, then doubling across to the field on the left side of the road.
"At first I didn't think it was drunk driving. I thought it was a heart attack or a medical emergency," Greenfield said.
Greenfield's daughter Meghan, who is in medical school, called 9-1-1 – one of several people who had called in, alarmed about Velazquez-Vite's driving.
The family felt helpless, Greenfield said. They knew that the car in front of them was on the cusp of an accident.
"He crossed the road again," she said.
Velazquez-Vite's car hit Taengsap's car, which became a “missile” headed straight for her and her family. Her husband Gregg locked the brakes, and avoided the crash.
"We parked, and hopped out of the car. My daughter Meghan and I ran to the car as did my other two daughters," Greenfield said. "I told them, 'Go get me all the medical supplies in my car.'"
She smelled auto fluids from the ruptured vehicle, and feared that the car would catch fire. Greenfield reached in the driver's side to turn off the motor.
"Meghan and I did a quick assessment. The drunk driver's bumper came off his car directly into. . . " Roxann's words faded as she trailed her finger from her forehead down her nose.
Taengsap was awake and and conscious, Greenfield said.
"He was searching in my face. I couldn't let the severity of the situation show on my face," she said.
He was having trouble breathing, and Greenfield had to coax him to stay with her.
She didn't have all the medical equipment necessary, so she improvised. She used clean towels to apply pressure to the wound, and had him spit at intervals, since she couldn't suction out the pooling blood.
Meanwhile, Meghan was attending to the three other victims in the car. Malorie and Morgan, Roxann's other two daughters, were helping with supplies, and Gregg was directing traffic.
Taengsap's passengers were fellow monks from the Wat Lao Buddhavong.
"I remember how selfless [they] were," Greenfield said. "They were such peaceful people."
Soon after, ambulances filled the road. Medics arrived and attended to the three passengers. and a helicopter flew Taengsap, to Fairfax where he died from his injuries.
Greenfield said she made herself available to the prosecutors from the Commonwealth Attorney's office throughout the trial. Valasquez-Vite, who escaped the crash with a broken nose, is now serving an eight year sentence.
Greenfield feels this is a harsh lesson to further demonstrate how drunk driving is not only dangerous to the driver, but others.
Almost three years later, Roxann still grieves for Taengsap, a man who she says didn't deserve to lose his life.
"And every time I drive that road I always say I'm sorry. I say a little prayer," said Roxann. "I just want them, the monks, to know that I'm so sorry for their loss. Ill never forget."
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