A week ago last Wednesday, Kristyn Abshire and Gary Noel had no idea each other existed.
Today, they are close friends because of a heroic act Abshire and another man did that may have saved Noel’s life after the crash.
Before the plane crash, Abshire was at her house debating when she should leave to go to her dentist appointment. The nursing student put leaving off for another five minutes and then she heard the noise of an airplane. Then the lights blinked on and off in her parents’ home.
She then heard the crash because it occurred just over two football fields away from her house. She looked outside and saw a yellow crop duster smashed in a field. She realized it crashed because it had clipped an electrical line.
Abshire quickly got in her car, drove to the accident to search for the pilot.
At the same time she arrived, two other men were on scene. The three saw smoke coming from the airplane, so there was a chance that Noel, the pilot, could be in danger.
Abshire said she told one of the men (no one knows who he was) to pull the pilot out of the plane and drag him to safety. Abshire, a brand new nursing student studying for her LPN license, saw the large cut on Noel’s head and realized it was bleeding.
She asked one of the men if they had a towel or rag to apply pressure to the cut. She said one of them took off his shirt and gave it to her. She wrapped the shirt around Gary’s forehead and applied pressure. She also knew not to let him lie down because of the bleeding.
She and another guy sat him up and tried to keep him awake until Acadian Ambulance arrived.
“It took about 25 minutes, but it felt like it was forever,” said Abshire, who is a 2010 graduate of Kaplan High School. Mr. Gary wanted me to call his wife. He also kept asking me what happened.”
She informed him his plane clipped a wire and crashed. The entire time they talked, Kristyn said Gary was in good spirits but he was also in pain.
“I should have left for the dentist five minutes earlier,” said Abshire. “But something kept me at the house. I think I was meant to be there.”
Well, fast forward eight days, and Abshire has not forgotten Gary Noel. She remains in contact with the Noel family.
She went to visit him Saturday when he was in a Lafayette hospital. Noel is slowly recovering from his broken bones and internal injuries. On Wednesday he had surgery to repair his right leg and collar bone. Next week doctors at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital will repair his left leg.
James Noel, his father, said his son has a long road to recovery and will be in Baton Rouge for a few more weeks.
Gary Noel, 45, has been a crop duster pilot for 17 years and was less than a month away from retirement.
Abshire said what occurred that Wednesday morning and how she handled the situation assured her nursing is what she is put on this Earth to do.
“I told myself, ‘This is what I was meant to do.’”
Gary Noel and his family are grateful she did. She said her parents, Frankie and Lou Abshire, are also proud of her.