Unsung Hero: Venturer driving to World Jamboree rescues family that crashed car

Jean Perea shaked hands with Scott Sorrels after Sorrels presented Jean with the National Medal of Merit.
Jean Perea shakes hands with Scott Sorrels after Sorrels presented Jean with the National Medal of Merit.

This is Unsung Heroes, a Bryan on Scouting blog series celebrating under-reported acts of Scouting heroism. These are stories that don’t make national headlines — but should. That’s doubly true in this world that can always use more good news. Read the latest story below, and find instructions for sharing your own Unsung Heroes story at the end of the post.

Jean Perea was driving to the World Scout Jamboree when a car going the other direction started swerving toward him.

He was alone on a winding section of Interstate 77 nearing Charleston, W.Va., when he saw the car’s tire catch a dirt patch and start to tumble into the grassy median. It stopped on its side and started to smoke.

Jean, a 20-year-old Venturer from Smyrna, Ga., didn’t hesitate. He immediately pulled his car over and called 911.

After that, he put into action the skills he learned as a member of Venturing, the BSA’s program for boys and girls ages 14 to 20.

“I can accredit almost all of the skills and how prepared I was to Scouting,” Jean says.

He called 911 immediately, assessed the area to make sure it was safe to enter, led a team of strangers through an emergency situation, had a first-aid kit handy, treated the victims for shock and knew to stay put until professionals arrived.

“All of that came from Scouting,” he says.

For his lightning-fast thinking in a stressful situation, Jean received the National Medal of Merit during an impromptu ceremony at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.

Jean receives his medal.

Help on the way

After Jean hung up with 911, he got out of his car and went to the wreck, where smoke was spewing and five other passers-by had gathered to help.

Worried the car would roll onto its roof, four men held onto the car while Jean reached up and opened the passenger side door.

A sixth man climbed up and pulled a mother, her infant daughter and their cat out of the car. He helped guide them to safety before the men carefully let go of the car.

“I had a first-aid kit in my car and another in my Jamboree bag just for emergencies like this,” Jean says, “but they had only minor scrapes and bruises from what we could see, so we treated them for shock.”

Jean stands with a group of Scouts and Scouters.

The healing power

Knowing to treat more than physical injuries, Jean talked with the mother and girl to keep them calm and comfort them until the professionals arrived.

Once paramedics were on the scene, Jean asked if there was anything else he could do.

Seeing nothing more could be done, Jean got back into his car and drove the remaining hour to the Summit Bechtel Reserve, home of the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.

Looking back on the scene now, Jean is grateful that he instinctively knew how to react in this emergency. He also knows that young people aren’t born with those instincts. They must learn them through opportunities like Scouting.

“I’d like to say thank you to all of the Scouts and Scouters who have ever taught me something, who have ever believed in me, or who have ever supported me,” Jean says. “I hope others who have to face this kind of situation are just as confident and prepared.”

More about Jean

Jean, who has earned the Pathfinder Award in Venturing, is a member of the National Venturing Communications Committee.

He’s entering his senior year at Georgia State University, where he’s studying social entrepreneurship with a concentration in global issues.

Share your Unsung Heroes story

Stories like these brighten my day — especially because I know this kind of thing happens regularly in Scouting.

Here’s how to share the news of an Unsung Hero in your pack, troop or crew:

  1. Send an email to me with the subject line “Unsung Heroes.”
  2. Include a detailed summary of the heroic act.
  3. Include any “supporting documentation” you can. Examples include links to a story in your local newspaper, paperwork for a Scouting heroism award nomination or eyewitness accounts.
  4. Include high-res photos of the Unsung Hero.

Thanks to Tony Mei, who served on World Jamboree staff, for the tip.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.