TxDOT Award Recognizes Heroic Actions of Staff
This year's recipients included 18-year veteran Jesus A. Garcia and three-year Technician Cruz A. Hernandez of Terlingua, a substation of Presidio in the El Paso District.
It is their careful eye that is credited for saving a young woman’s life. The pair was called out at 5:30 a.m. to assist with debris removal. The call from the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office came after first responders saw large rocks from a rockslide on FM-170, 12 miles west of Lajitas, that needed to be cleared.
Crews are used to clearing debris after a rockslide in that area and went on their way. Something was different this time though, as they encountered a vehicle 10 to 12 feet down a deep ditch on a curve half a mile east of Lajitas. A little bright light caught the attention of Hernandez while he was going around the curve in a dump truck. He told Garcia in the lead truck to stop and check. He found it was a young woman that was trapped in her car unconscious, bleeding, and seriously injured. The crew called 911 and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived.
It turns out the woman had left work in Terlingua at 1 a.m. and fell asleep on a curve, rolling her vehicle multiple times, just before she got home to Lajitas 16 miles away. Her parents had been searching for her for hours, but it was the height from the dump truck that gave Hernandez that life-saving view.
Medics told TxDOT employees that if it had been another hour, the driver would not have made it. The victim’s injuries were so serious she had to be airlifted to Lubbock.
“These employees embody the selfless, caring, responsive demeanor we strive to achieve every day in our roles to serve others,” said TxDOT El Paso District Engineer Tomas Treviño. “They didn’t think twice about stopping to render aid, and this was especially important in such a remote area of our district.”
The first Extra Mile Award was presented in 1983. Recipients are recognized publicly and receive a plaque.
This is not the first time staff from the TxDOT El Paso District have been recognized. Staff members were recognized in 2008, 2015, and 2018.