By Linda Greer
Globe Staff Writer
NEOSHO, Mo. — When Neosho fire Chief Greg Hickman heard police radio traffic Monday night that a car had overturned in Shoal Creek just a quarter of a mile from his home, he rushed to the scene.
Hickman, a 33-year veteran firefighter, said he has performed many rescues through the years, but that this one was different.
Neosho police Capt. John Strimble said Sgt. Steven Douglas was patrolling about 9:30 p.m. Monday on College Street when he noticed a speeding Nissan with a taillight out and being driven erratically.
When the driver turned left onto Lime Kiln Road, Strimble said, the car went airborne over the railroad tracks.
That’s when Douglas activated his lights in pursuit, Strimble said.
The driver started to go off the road on the right and overcorrected, with the car then glancing off of a tree, he said.
“She had no control after that, and ended up in the swamp,” Strimble said. The driver was not even aware that she was being pursued by Douglas until after the crash, he said.
When Hickman arrived at the scene a mile north of Neosho, the driver, later identified as 21-year-old Amanda Farmer, and a passenger, Maria Pamplin, 15, of Neosho, were on the shore shouting that a 10-year-old boy was still buckled inside the upside-down car, part of which was in four feet of water.
Strimble said he was told that the boy, identified as Gary Neeley, and Pamplin are cousins of Farmer’s, although he had not verified that on Tuesday afternoon. They were on their way home from town, he said.
“I was standing on the bank and could only see the passenger-side tires,” Hickman said.
Hickman said he acted quickly, not even sure which Neosho police officer was assisting or how deep the water was. Hickman and Douglas were able to reach inside the passenger window and could feel the boy, but they could not pull him free.
Hickman said he used a knife to cut Neeley’s seat belt, then carried him to shore. Neeley had a pulse but was not breathing. Hickman performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics arrived and administered oxygen, although he said he was not sure just how long that was.
Neeley was flown to Freeman West Hospital in Joplin, where he apparently was treated and later released. Hospital representatives Tuesday afternoon said federal regulations prohibited them from divulging information about the case, other than to say that the boy was not a patient at that time.
Pamplin was treated at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin and released. Farmer was not injured.
“We were just doing our job,” Hickman said. “I guess I was in the right place at the right time.”
Neosho police cited Amanda Farmer, 21, of Neosho, for alleged careless and impudent driving, driving a car with no taillight, and not having a driver’s license. She also could be charged with child endangerment, authorities said. She also faces charges sought by the Missouri State Highway Patrol for allegedly not having insurance or vehicle license plates, according to Neosho police Capt. John Strimble.
By Linda Greer
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