People Taking Action: Local educator saves man injured in violent motorcycle accident

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.-  Loud cheers for Randy Sparling as he walked into Salem Middle School's cafeteria, where a large group of eighth grade students had gathered to witness News 3 surprise him with a People Taking Action award.

He started fighting back tears as he remembered why he was being honored.

"It's nice to know you can help people and all the training and everything you go through all your life and to be able to save someone's life," Randy said.

That's exactly what the school's Student Activities Coordinator recently did while heading out on an eighth grade field trip. Heather Wade, Salem Middle's Instructional Technology Specialist, sent News 3 an email and read a portion of it.

"While sitting at the light at Indian Lakes Boulevard and Ferrell Parkway, a horrific accident took place," she read.

That accident involved a motorcycle ridden by Joe and Stephanie Watts. Joe says it happened right after he pulled into the intersection after the light changed.

"This green Ford van just struck us hard from the right side, and I went over and forward and I could see my wife's body go over and past me and I hit the ground; I hit the ground right in front of a school bus," Joe told us.

Joe's wife says her memory is a little fuzzy of the accident.

"I do not remember flying off. I don't remember anything until being on the ground - and I was very confused and I was yelling for my husband," Stephanie said.

Stephanie is recovering in a wheelchair with multiple broken bones. Joe lost a leg but didn't lose his life thanks to Randy.

"One of the things that struck me the most memory wise, Randy's voice - trying to get everyone to help and to do whatever he could," Joe said.

Randy knew he had to act fast when he hopped off that bus.

"I looked at Joe, he was severely hurt and I hollered to the bus, 'I need a belt!' and belts came flying," Randy recalled.

Heather shared in the email how Randy took action.

"He applied tourniquets and made sure the two victims were comfortable until rescue crews arrived," she continued. "Later that day, Randy was notified that, without his quick actions, the outcome would've been drastically different."

Joe is well aware of that.

"I'm knocking on death's door. I'm right there and he jumps off that bus and still directs these children and helps me; what impressive leadership, but all I can say to that man is simply, I owe you my life. Thank you!" Joe said.

For those reasons, News 3 presented Randy with a People Taking Action award and a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

Randy credits his nearly 50 years of training from being in the Boy Scouts.

"And they teach you things like that. They teach you to stop the bleeding. First thing you have to do is stop the bleeding because you will bleed out in four or five minutes if you don't stop the bleeding," he said.

Randy also visited Joe in the hospital after the accident.

"I needed closure for myself to make sure that I did what I knew was right and I wanted to see Joe and his wife and make sure that they were in good hands and that they were in stable condition," Randy said.

Randy brought with him a huge poster - made by the students who were on that bus - filled with well wishes.  Joe is so grateful, saying one message stands out in particular.

"'You are strong.' I look at that one every day, but I always look at 'You are strong' and it helps me out a lot," Joe said.

As they have a long road to recovery, the Wattses are unable to work and the driver who is accused of plowing into them is facing a host of charges including operating a vehicle that was not insured. Right now they have no idea how enormous the medical bills will be and they don't know how soon they will be able to return to work so a friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help out the Wattses.

If you would like to contribute, click here.