(Texas Department of Transportation photo)
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) awarded the Extra Mile Awards at their annual Texas Transportation Short Course in College Station. The Extra Mile Award recognizes employees who have acted heroically to help a fellow Texan in need. An employee who receives this award has: saved someone's life or attempted to save another life, while on the job or on the employee's own time or acted in a heroic manner to prevent injury to another person or to diminish a life-threatening situation.
This year recipients included 18-year veteran Jesus A. Garcia and 3-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 mi. 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 ft. down a deep ditch on a curve 1/2 mi. east of Lajitas. It was a little bright light that caught the attention of Hernandez going around the curve in a dump truck. He called Garcia in the lead truck to stop and check. He found it was a young lady 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 young lady had left work in Terlingua at 1:00 a.m. and fell asleep on a curve, rolling her vehicle multiple times, just before she got home to Lajitas 16 mi. 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 young 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.
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