Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator, recently thanked the individuals at Pantex who saved the lives of three strangers during two separate incidents.
During a visit to the Pantex Plant, former NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty thanked the individuals at Pantex who saved the lives of three strangers during two separate incidents.

Any father would have done the same.

Cody Hyatt
Pantex Plant Protective Force Captain

Off-duty Pantex Security Police Officer saves drowning men

“In the Safeguards and Security Division here at Pantex, I think I am safe to say that most of us are in the business to protect people who cannot protect themselves,” said Cody Hyatt, Pantex Protective Force Captain in the Training Department. A humble response from a weekend hero.

On June 6, while at Greenbelt Reservoir with his family, Capt. Hyatt saved the lives of two drowning men. He had just pulled his boat up on the shore when an approximately 10-year-old boy frantically ran up to him screaming and pointing to the water. “Save my dad!” the boy said.

Capt. Hyatt looked out and saw a man’s head cresting the top of the water about 25 yards from the beach and immediately jumped into the water to try and rescue the man. While Hyatt’s wife remained on shore to calm the boy and other family, he quickly swam to the man’s aid. His cousin-in-law, Jimmy Messer, followed with a life preserver.

“I just saw a need and filled it,” Capt. Hyatt said when asked what made him jump in the water that day. “I served in the United States Marine Corps. Even though it was 20-plus years ago, I retained some of my water survival training. As a member of the Protective Force Training Department [at Pantex], we conduct some of the inherently highest-risk activities on the plant site. We are all trained in CPR and Tactical Casualty Care.”

Capt. Hyatt pulled the 38-year-old man above the surface and began treading water and speaking to him. He then noticed a second distressed person in the water floating about five yards away. He signaled to Messer, who rescued the second swimmer, the man’s 17-year-old son.

Luckily nearby Texas state game wardens were alerted to the situation and brought their boat to aid in the rescue. Because both victims were completely exhausted and slipping in and out of consciousness, they couldn’t get in the boat. So, Hyatt and Messer held on to edge of the boat as the game wardens dragged them through the water to the shallows, where Hyatt and Messer could bring the men to the shore. Once on the beach, they rendered aid until medical personnel arrived.

“Jimmy and I just did our best to keep them conscious and talking to assist with their breathing,” he said.

Upon their release from the hospital, the two men then came back to the lake to thank Capt. Hyatt and his family for saving their lives.

“Jimmy and I were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Any father would have done the same,” he said.

Since the incident, word has spread about Capt. Hyatt’s heroic actions, and he has received plenty of pats on the back from fellow officers and co-workers.

Michelle Reichert, CNS Chief Operations Officer, said, “At a time in our world where we feel isolated from one another, this story of courage and compassion really is heartwarming and reaffirming. A selfless act of courage when one person truly cares about another, that they have never even met, shows what a difference a brave and caring person can make in the life of others. Cody and his family not only saved lives, they saved a family.”

More than just being in the right place at the right time, a hero needs to be prepared to jump into action, and must be brave enough to do it. In June and July 2020, Pantex employees saved the lives of three strangers during two separate incidents. Pantex Security Police Officers (SPO) and other Pantexans were both prepared and willing to serve their neighbors in their most dire need. 

“The actions by Pantex employees in these two incidents are a testament to their training and willingness to respond to emergency situations, to help those in need in two very dangerous incidents,” said Geoff Beausoleil, manager of the National NNSA’s Production Office which is responsible for the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee.

The victim could not have picked a better highway to have an accident on that morning.

Leonard Barbarino
Pantex Plant construction worker

Pantexans save man in rollover accident

Early Sunday morning, July 19, Pantex SPO, Clinton “CJ” Arney was also in the right place at the right time. Before the sun rose that day, he was on Highway 60 driving to work when saw a vehicle in front of him roll over and eject a man onto the road. He immediately stopped and called for emergency services.

Arney did not hesitate to run to the victim and drag the man to the side of the highway, clear his airway, and tend to the bleeding. With eight years in the Navy and five years of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training and experience, there couldn’t have been a better person to assist the victim that day. He was instrumental in treating the serious wounds, his combat medic training proving to be invaluable.

“It all happened so quickly. My muscle memory kicked in and I just knew what to do,” Arney said.

Arney was alone with the victim for about five minutes before other Good Samaritan Pantexans stopped to assist. Two SPOs, Corey Gonzales and Jake Chitwood, and three Pantex Crafts construction workers, Jayamen Bustamante, Thomas “TJ” Greer, and Leonard Barbarino each played their part.

“Almost everyone who stopped that day was a Pantexan,” Arney said. “It’s good to know there are great people out here.” 

Gonzales and Bustamante assisted Arney with the man’s injuries and in speaking with county emergency services, while Chitwood and Greer controlled traffic. Barbarino arrived with an emergency first aid kit and helped until paramedics arrived and airlifted the man to the hospital. The man’s life was almost certainly saved due the actions of these Pantexans who were willing to help.

“The victim could not have picked a better highway to have an accident on that morning,” said Barbarino. “The selfless acts of these and a few other Pantexans is recognizable. Not a single person hesitated. It is this that makes me proud of our team and Pantexans as a whole.”

Morgan Smith, CNS CEO, said of the heroic actions, “The actions of our people were impressive and demonstrate the capability, commitment, and care of our people to do the right thing and help others. While the accident is tragic, the actions of all of the individuals involved were heroic and worthy of recognition. I do hope and pray the individual in the accident will have a swift and as complete a recovery as possible.”