Navy veteran pulls woman from fatal crash in Virginia


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – An infant was killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on I-264 West at Rosemont Road on Monday.

Navy corpsman Tom Gentry was out taking his motorcycle for ride when he came across the crash scene.

“Yeah they went through a lot yesterday,” Gentry said.

Gentry, a senior chief was heading back to his Norfolk home when he noticed a car almost stopped in middle of the highway.

“There was absolutely no way the traffic could have avoided that car,” Gentry added.

In his mirror he could see a truck slam into the back of the car. He had no choice but to turn around.

“There is absolutely no way a second crossed my mind to continue going once I saw this accident,” he said.

The Navy veteran who once helped wounded marines in Iraq put his training into action.

“I saw the flames underneath the vehicle so I approached and I found the female victim in the driver’s seat,” Gentry added. “She was unconscious.”

Gentry says he cut the woman out of her seat belt, and then pulled her out of the car and away from the growing flames.

“The fire was so quick,” he said. “It spread from the back of the car to the front seats. 10 more seconds and the lady would have been on fire so thank God I was able to do something.”

The woman’s family identifies her as LaTisha Pearl. She was in the car with her two daughters, Ajournee Pearl-Bell (2) and Alegacee Pearl-Bell (5 months), and their father Trayvon Bell. Alegacee wasn’t able to be saved in time.

“That was the hardest part for me, because there was nothing I could have done to get the baby out,” Gentry said. “With the damage the car had taken and rate of the spreading fire, there was nothing I could do.”

Pearl is still in ICU at Sentara Norfolk General. Her breathing tube was removed today, but she is still in-and-out of consciousness. She suffered injuries to her head and neck.

Ajournee is still unconscious at CHKD. She too suffered head and neck injuries.

Bell was not hurt in the crash.

“They are in our prayers now and they will continue to be in our prayers,” Gentry added.

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