Above the Call

Off-duty CDCR sergeant gives teen crash victim a fighting chance

Flores family calls San Quentin Sgt. Eberly a hero

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

When Sgt. William Eberly left work at San Quentin on Sept. 4, he checked his GPS navigator for the fastest way home. Instead of taking a quicker way, he chose to ignore the device and take his usual route. Because of that last-minute decision, he was able to stop and help a young driver critically injured in an accident.

“When I was approaching the accident scene, traffic was going really slow around 5 to 10 mph and moving over to the right, onto the shoulder to pass,” Sgt. Eberly explained. “The first thing I saw was Alyssa’s car. It was sideways in between the number 1 and 2 lanes facing the center divider with damage to the driver side of the car and the air bag was deployed on that side. As I got closer I saw a second vehicle facing the wrong direction in the number 4 and 5 lanes with all airbags deployed and what looked like damage to all sides of the car.”

Emergency services had yet to respond so Sgt. Eberly stopped to help.

“I just thought, ‘Let me check to make sure everyone is OK.’ I pulled over into the fast lane, about 20 yards from Alyssa’s car, and got out and started walking toward the scene,” he said,

A man from the third vehicle was walking away from Alyssa’s car, saying “she’s out.” When asked to explain, the other man said “she’s sleeping.”

“I went over to her car and saw the driver window was shattered. I moved the airbag to see if she was OK and saw a major laceration on the left side of her head,” Eberly said. “I immediately ran back to my car, grabbed gloves, my CPR mask, and a diaper — which was the first thing I could find at the time — to use to control the bleeding.”

Eberly told the man from the third vehicle to let 911 know an off-duty officer was on scene and needed a code 3 ambulance right away.

Returning to Alyssa’s vehicle, Eberly crawled to get inside.

“I got in the car and proceeded to raise her head since she was slumped over on her right shoulder. I then placed the diaper on her head wound,” he said. “As I was holding her head up and controlling the bleeding, her phone rang and I found it.”

The caller ID was Madre.

“Being a parent myself, I would want to know so I answered the phone. The mom asked who I was. I told her that her daughter had been involved in an accident, was unresponsive and unconscious but breathing. I explained I was rendering first aid. I put her on speakerphone so she could talk to her daughter,” he said.

Brandi Flores, Alyssa’s mother, is a nurse. She said she could hear her daughter gasping for air.

Eberly waited in the car, holding Alyssa’s head, applying pressure to the wound.

“I waited approximately 25 to 30 minutes for police and fire to arrive, the whole time controlling the bleeding and holding her head up. My arms were getting tired when they finally arrived, he said.

He continued supporting her head until paramedics were able to get her in a neck brace.

“I stayed on the scene, still talking to Alyssa’s mom, telling her the paramedics had arrived and were tending to Alyssa. She told me, ‘We are almost there, my husband is running towards you now.’ I looked down the freeway and saw her husband. I told the CHP officer at the scene, ‘Hey that’s her dad,'” Eberly explained.

After he was done speaking with CHP, the father approached Sgt. Eberly and shook his hand.

“He walked up to me thanked me and I handed him Alyssa’s phone. He shook my hand and told me, ‘Seriously thank you so much.’ I told him I’ve got kids,” Eberly said.

Alyssa’s condition was so severe, including massive head trauma, that she was rushed to the hospital by air ambulance. She underwent emergency brain surgery and other procedures. She had steadily made progress. According to the family’s GoFundMe page, Alyssa is beginning to speak and walk, with assistance. She’s in speech therapy and will begin physical therapy soon.

The Flores family said Sgt. Eberly is a hero.

“Words will never express what he did to save her. I mean, he’s the reason she’s here, fighting for her life,” Brandi Flores told KTVU.

According to Eberly, he was just in the right place at the right time.

“I’m just someone who stopped to help,” Eberly said. “I have been in contact with a lot of Alyssa’s family. They are calling me a hero and Alyssa’s angel. I don’t feel like I’m a hero. I did what any good-hearted person would have done. I’m thankful for my training from the Marines and from CDCR so that I knew what to do and how to help in this situation.”