Officers find people trapped in overturned vehicle
While driving on Highway 99 near Madera, three CDCR K-9 officers spotted a vehicle flipped on its side. As the first to arrived at the March 6 crash, the officers pulled their state vehicles onto the shoulder and rushed to help.
Officers C. Reyes, A. Fernandez and J. Castillo quickly assessed the situation, finding two people trapped inside the vehicle. Reyes and Fernandez tried to get into the vehicle, but the doors were jammed.
Two officers began prying open the rear door while Castillo retrieved a medical bag from his car and asked bystanders to call 911. Once inside, they found the crash victims were trapped by their seatbelts. Officer Reyes used a cutting tool to free the male victim. Castillo and another bystander pried open the driver’s side door, pulling the male victim to safety.
That’s when CHP and the local fire department arrived. Meanwhile, Fernandez remained inside the vehicle to assess the female victim. Cutting her free from the seatbelt, but CHP and fire said there was no clear exit route to get her out of the vehicle. They asked the CDCR officer if he could use his expandable baton to break the glass sunroof.
Fernandez covered the woman with a blanket, shielding her from breaking glass. Still unable to remove her from the car, the paramedics were able to reach inside to get a better handle on her medical condition.
That’s when the fire department brought in the Jaws of Life tool to cut the windshield and roof. Officer Fernandez shielded the female as they successfully cut through the vehicle.
The female occupant was then lifted to safety. Both occupants were given medical attention and transported to the local hospital for a higher level of care due their injuries.
Recognized for quick actions
“I would like to take this time to commend Officers Reyes, Fernandez and Castillo for their bravery and heroism. In a high stress situation, they were able to hold their composure, assess the scene, think quick on their feet and work together as a team to render aid when needed,” said K-9 Sergeant Avra Karanikolas.
Reyes works at California Rehabilitation Center, Fernandez at Ironwood State Prison, and Castillo at California Institution for Men.