A U.S. Army sergeant’s life-saving efforts after a car accident in Texas are under investigation after it was determined that the story was made up.
On Jan. 9, the U.S. Army published a story highlighting the efforts of Sgt. Trey Troney, a 20-year-old field artillery cannon crewmember assigned to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas. Troney, the report said, had saved the life of Jeff Udger with the use of a New Orleans Saints hoodie and a ballpoint pen.
The accident where Udger was reportedly injured took place on Dec. 22 near Sweetwater, Texas, and Troney happened upon the accident while on his way home to Mississippi for holiday leave. According to Troney, he wrapped his “Salute to Service” New Orleans Saints hoodie around Udger’s head to staunch a bleeding head wound and utilized the hollow tube inside a ballpoint pen to treat Udger’s collapsed lung.
The story was picked up by several news outlets in the southeastern United States, as well as reports by the New York Post and Fox News, but as the story gained attention, firefighters and law enforcement in Sweetwater began asking questions.
“There are so many similarities, but our patient didn’t have those injuries,” Sweetwater fire chief Grant Madden told the Army Times.
According to Madden, there was a wreck in Sweetwater that day where a silver Toyota Tundra had been struck by an 18-wheeler. Madden responded to work the wreck with a team, telling Army Times that he pulled the driver of the Tundra — a head trauma victim named Jeff Hayes — from the truck.
Hayes spoke with Army WTF Moments, telling the publication that while he’s lucky to be alive, he has no scar to indicate a chest decompression was performed.
“I am a nurse of 28 years, and I have dealt with trauma. I was not decompressed, no chest tubes, no pen decompression. A field decompression would have placed me in the ICU and high-end monitoring, and there are no related scars or wound. I am lucky to be alive, and I am lucky to be talking,” Hayes said.
The police report, along with reports from the fire department, concurred with Hayes’ statement. In addition, officials were unable to locate Jeff Udger even though Udger had previously sent a lengthy email praising Troney’s efforts to local media and Troney’s chain of command. Efforts from the 1st Armored Division’s Public Affairs Office to find Udger resulted in a second email from where Udger declined to further discuss the accident, Army WTF Moments reports.
Lt. Bryan Witt, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the Army Times that they can confirm Troney was at the scene of the accident and that it’s possible he gave a his hoodie to help — a hoodie was found at the scene covered in Haynes’ blood, but no one could confirm that it was a “Salute to Service” jacket or that the hoodie belonged to Troney.
“We cannot find any evidence through our investigation that his story was accurate about the first aid he talked about,” Witt said.
The U.S. Army issued a retraction for the story on Thursday, saying, “Due to factual inaccuracies, we retract “Iron Soldier saves man’s life with hoodie, ink pen” story, published Jan 9. 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.”
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