Two Peachtree City Civil Air Patrol cadets pulled a man from a wrecked car sinking in a pond.

The man was in a multi-car crash on Thursday night, Aug. 2, about 10:30 p.m. that left him in the middle of a pond in Coweta County.

Traveling home from a Civil Air Patrol meeting, 1st Lt. Davis Laughlin and 2nd Lt. Nathaniel Justin Oakes came upon wreck scene. Justin’s mom, 2nd Lt. Jennifer Oakes, dialed 911, as the cadets sprang into action. Laughlin and Oakes quickly ran to the first car they saw and confirmed that everyone inside was okay.

One of the accident victims yelled that another car had gone towards the field. The cadets crossed a barbed wire fence, ran down a grassy ridge to a pond where a small SUV was only seen by the faint taillights just under the water.

“We started getting close to the car, the water started getting deeper and deeper, until the point where we had to swim,” Oakes said.

Once at the car, the cadets tried to get the man out. “We tried to talk to him, but he was very disoriented, so we began to yell, ‘Roll down the windows. Roll down the windows,’” Laughlin said.

After a few moments, the man let his window down. Cadets Laughlin and Oakes began working together to get the man out of the car, as water rushed into the car. The cadets were able to get the man out through the window, and then swam to the bank, pulling the man to safety, where paramedics and first responders met them.

“These guys are awesome. They went above and beyond, to go into the water, in the pitch dark to get this guy out. They don’t even know!” Coweta County first responder Brett Osting said of Laughlin and Oakes. The car was completely submerged by the time they got the man to the bank.

“The adrenaline was going through us, but with all our training, you want to remain calm and control your breathing,” Oakes said. The cadets, from GA-116 Peachtree City-Falcon Field Composite Squadron SER-GA-116, credit their heroics to the training they received through the Civil Air Patrol.

Laughlin and Oakes believe they were in the right place at the right time. Oakes said, “I’m thankful that everyone involved in Thursday nights events are all still alive. It was the best outcome for the worst situation.”

“The most important thing … is the man we saved,” said Laughlin. The man, in his sixties, was treated at a local hospital and released.

“These cadets put their own lives at risk, using CAP training to save this man’s life. I am very proud of our young cadets and their heroic service to our community and to CAP,” said Major David Serafin, squadron commander.

Peachtree City-Falcon Field Composite Squadron is recruiting new members on Aug. 23 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at 1120 Echo Court, Atlanta Regional Airport, Falcon Field Peachtree City. Ages 12 and up are welcome to learn more about Civil Air Patrol and its three missions: Aerospace Education (STEM Kits and more) Cadet Programs and Emergency Services.

CAP is the volunteer, non-profit auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. CAP’s three missions are aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services. All to develop and educate cadets on the importance of aviation space and perform life-saving, humanitarian missions. The cadets learn Search and Rescue skills, along with basic CPR and first aid.

Currently, GA-116 meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the ATP Flight School, 1120 Echo Court, Peachtree City Atlanta Regional Airport. Ages 12 and up are welcome to join. Find out more about GA-116 at or find us on Facebook- Peachtree City Falcon Field Composite Squadron GA-116, Civil Air Patrol. #gocivilairpatrol #CAPGA116.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

[The author is 2nd Lt. Diane Gentzke, Peachtree City Falcon Field Composite Squadron, GA-116 Public Affairs Officer.]