Tanna Valliere honored for quick-thinking that saved life of Corbin Raymond 

  • Tanna Valliere at his home on Fisherville Road on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Valliere was instramental in helping save his cousin Corbin Raymond after the two were in a 4th of July crash back in 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Tanna Valliere at his home on Fisherville Road on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Valliere was instramental in helping save his cousin Corbin Raymond after the two were in a 4th of July crash back in 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Tanna Valliere, shown at his home on Fisherville Road earlier this month, was instrumental in helping save his cousin Corbin Raymond after the two were in a 4th of July crash in 2018. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Corbin Raymond looks out at the crowd that greeted him and his mother as they traveled in front of Merrimack Valley High School on Thursday, November 1, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Corbin Raymond is alive today, and it’s very likely that wouldn’t be the case if it wasn’t for Tanna Valliere.

  • Corbin Raymond says goodbye to his mother Sadie at the entrance of Merrimack Valley High School on Friday, April 5, 2019 as he attends a meeting with his teacher. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/11/2019 1:42:40 PM

TannaValliere says he might have learned how to save his cousin’s life – on the Fourth of July last year – from watching a movie.

That day in 2018, the car Valliere and his cousin, Corbin Raymond, were riding in on River Road in Boscawen went airborne, crashing into trees and seriously injuring Raymond.

Valliere reacted. He held his cousin’s head up to counter that awful gurgling sound, a sign that blood was perhaps affecting Raymond’s breathing. He wrapped himself and Raymond in a blanket while the Jaws of Life, used to extract the two Merrimack Valley High School students, both in the back seat, spilled glass all over them.

Fast forward. Raymond, who was given little chance of surviving, is doing well, but not before four months of surgeries and rehabilitation. He was the lone person seriously injured in the crash, and in September, 14 months after the crash, Valliere got his due, receiving the first-ever Civilian Lifesaver Award at the 28th annual Fire Service and EMS Awards in Concord.

Valliere reacted through instincts moments after the accident. He also says he might have had the flicker of a film stored somewhere in his mind.

“He was gurgling and I think he was choking on his own blood,” Valliere said. “I held his head up so his neck area had more of an open airway, then he stopped gurgling, so whatever I did was working. I might have seen that in a movie. I don’t know.”

This was no movie, yet Valliere was the protagonist. Last month’s ceremony recognized those who have committed themselves to community work. It also honored Valliere and his cool, spur-of-the-moment quickness and efficiency.

Valliere was greeted with bagpipes, applause and a TV interview. Raymond stood by his side, fighting hard to make sure his feelings were displayed through smiling, not crying.

“It was really hard to hold back tears,” Raymond said this week by phone. “He saved my life before the medical people got there. He really did. It was very emotional.”

Explained Valliere: “It’s just kind of something that I did. I did not think twice about it. I think a lot about it every day, but I think mostly about Corbin and how well he’s doing.”

The incident was life-changing, scary and complex, forever joining the lives of four high school buddies who, during a holiday weekend, crashed on their way to go tubing.

Neither drugs nor alcohol played a part in the crash. Speed did. The driver, Tyler Daigle, has filed his intent to plead guilty in Merrimack County Superior Court to vehicular assault. As part of a plea deal, attorneys are recommending a suspended one-year sentence, contingent upon good behavior for three years. Under the agreement, Daigle would lose his license for 30 days, be required to perform community service and be on probation for two years.

Raymond suffered a fractured spine, broken collarbone, broken facial bones, two broken shoulder blades, fractured ribs and skull fractures. That last injury prompted doctors at Concord Hospital to tell Valliere that his cousin would most likely die from his injuries. Or at least his brain function would never return to normal.

Valliere didn’t buy it. He had grown up with Raymond, played with him, gotten to know what made him tick. He knew Raymond was tough.

“It was very heartbreaking to hear this at that time,” Valliere told me, “but I did not believe it.”

And why not?

“I disregarded it because I knew he would make it,” Valliere answered. “He’s a fighter and strong mentally. He never gave up on things. If he was going to do a job, he did it right, and he never quit.”

Something as simple and innocent as building a structure out of Legos told Valliere something about Raymond, about his perseverance, his stubbornness, his fighting spirit.

“He’d put every single one of them together,” Valliere said, referring to the Legos. “He’d put together this huge Lego piece by piece as a child, and it was pretty impressive.”

Raymond explained it this way: “Everyone said I wasn’t going to make it, and I wanted to prove them wrong, and also live.”

The cousins have always been close. Valliere spent his early childhood in Florida. He and his family vacationed in the Granite State during summers. The two boys would visit Raymond’s grandmother in Pittsfield, swimming in a pond near her home. They played games on their phones. They played Wii. And they built those Lego things.

The Vallieres moved here five years ago, “to be closer to family,” Valliere said.

On July 4 of last year, Valliere, Raymond, Daigle and Kobe Goodwin, all students at Merrimack Valley High School, met at the old Rivco building in Penacook. They planned for a day of tubing on the Contoocook River. Daigle drove.

According to Valliere, the group made a last-minute decision to take the back roads over the highway, believing it might be the quicker route.

Valliere and Raymond were in the back seat of a 2005 Nissan Maxima.

“We were coming to a hill and a curve,” Valliere said. “I was on my phone, so I wasn’t really paying attention. I looked up and we were flying toward this garden and I closed my eyes for a second and it was over.”

The car came to rest on its side, against a tree, two wheels in the air.

“You get knocked around and you look to see your surroundings,” Valliere said. “I looked to the front seats to see Kobe and Tyler and they seemed okay. Then I looked to my left and Corbin was unconscious. I thought maybe he was knocked out and maybe it wasn’t too serious.”

It was, though, a notion that quickly dawned on Valliere. Blood was everywhere, on both boys. Raymond’s head was bent forward. Then came the sound that injected Valliere with a sense of urgency, told him something needed to be done, fast.

That gurgling sound meant Raymond’s breathing had been affected. Valliere kept cool. He kept Raymond’s head up. He told his unconscious cousin, over and over, “You’ll be okay; you’ll come back.”

He was right. Valliere, Raymond and Raymond’s sister, Grace Raymond, went to prom together last spring. Raymond needs a few more credits to earn his high school diploma, but he walked with his class during graduation in June.

The Raymond family joined the Vallieres at the awards presentation. Corbin’s mother, Sadie Raymond, said the time was right for recognition, telling me, “We were thrilled. Corbin has gotten so much attention, and he would not be here had it not been for Tanna.”

Raymond still has headaches. His short-term memory remains a problem. But he’s on his way to a normal life. In fact, he’s already there.

He might attend New Hampshire Technical Institute. Maybe he’ll open a business with a friend. Maybe he’ll be a physical therapist, rehabbing patients.

He’s sure of one thing, though: His cousin is a lifesaver.

“I cannot express how much I love that kid,” Raymond said.

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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