Coast Guardsman receives medal for actions taken during a severe traffic accident

Coast Guard District 11 NewsMCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – A Temecula, Calif., native and 2001 graduate of the Army and Navy Academy of Carlsbad, Calif., was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal for his heroic life saving actions in June 2011.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean McTague, a Coast Guard flight mechanic stationed at Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay, was formally recognized for heroics when he was presented the award by Capt. John Prince, Eleventh Coast Guard District chief of staff on Nov. 4, 2011.

McTague and his fiancée, Sandra Clausen, were traveling south on Interstate 5 toward their hometown on the night of June 11, 2011, when they were involved in a motor-vehicle collision. At approximately midnight, McTague noticed brake lights from a car in the right lane, followed by headlights from the car of an intoxicated driver traveling the wrong direction on the freeway. Unable to avoid the oncoming vehicle, McTague slammed his brakes and collided head-on with the intoxicated driver.

Despite suffering serious injuries, McTague quickly got out of the car and attempted to pull Clausen away from the wreck. Due to damage from the crash, he was unable to open the passenger door and had to pull her out the driver’s side door. Seconds after removing her from the car, a third car traveling southbound struck their vehicle, narrowly missing them both.

After the near miss, McTague helped Clausen onto the median between north and south bound traffic, when a fourth vehicle and driver traveling southbound attempted to avoid the damaged vehicles and lost control of the car. That vehicle careened toward McTague and Clausen on the median. Even with his serious injuries, McTague again swiftly reacted and moved himself and Clausen clear of the out of control car, saving both their lives.

When emergency responders arrived at the accident scene, they determined Clausen’s injuries required a medical evacuation via helicopter. While waiting in the ambulance for the helicopter, McTague asked Clausen to marry him, and she said yes.

As a flight mechanic in the Coast Guard, McTague has accumulated over 500 flight hours and has been a part of 14 rescues. As a flight mechanic on Coast Guard helicopters, he is responsible for the hoisting operations of survivors from distressed vessels and assisting the rescue swimmer in tending to those in need of medical evacuation.

McTague enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2003 and has since been stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau in Alameda Calif., and Air Stations Sacramento, Houston, and Humboldt Bay. His younger brother Kevin McTague has followed in his footsteps and joined the Coast Guard in 2006. Kevin is a seaman currently assigned at Coast Guard Station Vallejo, Calif. Their parents, Raymond and Pamela McTague, still live in California but have moved closer to the coast in Seal Beach.

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