Secret Service agent was first to render aid to Thunderbirds pilot after crash

Special Agent Charlie Beans (left). US Army Blackhawk helicopter flying over the crash of a Thunderbirds F-16 (right).

The extent of the Secret Services’ personal interaction with Air Force pilots is usually limited to Air Force One -the two Boeing 747s assigned to transport the President- but when a Thunderbirds jet crashed following the Air Force Academy graduation an agent was in the right place at the right time.

A Denver-based Secret Service agent -assigned to protect the President giving the commencement speech at the Air Force Academy- is being credited as the first person to respond to the crash and render aid, according to The Denver Channel.

After the graduation, the Thunderbirds flew over the ceremony in celebration but Pilot Maj. Alex Turner was forced to eject from the #6 Thunderbirds F-16, which crashed Widefield -south of Colorado Springs.

Special Agent Charlie Beans happened to be on a helicopter from the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (National Guard) at the time. They were immediately diverted to respond to the crash.

“As we were going towards it, we learned that the pilot did eject, so we were at least looking for that,” said Beans.

When they arrived on the scene, Turner was walking around and appeared to be in good condition.

“I gave him a quick rapid trauma assessment, which is kind of something we do to make sure he doesn’t have any broken bones or he’s in shock or anything like that. I just grabbed his leg a couple of times, I said, ‘Is your back OK? Is your neck OK? Are your legs OK? Brother we’re going to get you out of here, just sit back,” said Beans.

Turner has been with the Thunderbirds since October of 2015 -his first season with the team- but has logged over 1,500 hours in the F-16 aircraft. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

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