FULLERTON, Calif --
Staff Sgt. Joseph Maldonado, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Fullerton, Recruiting Station Orange County, was traveling on the highway on his way to work when he happened upon a tragic accident. Blocking the left side of the highway was a three car pile up. Maldonado was fortunate enough to have his windows down when passing by and could hear a gentleman call out for help who was in a red Mercedes laid on its side.
Two bystanders were already assisting an older woman who was injured in the accident when Maldonado pulled over and got out of his vehicle to help the man stuck in his Mercedes.
“When I pulled over in front of the guys car I saw that it would be difficult to get him out since the vehicle was on it’s side. I knew the windshield couldn’t be broken while he was still dangling in the driver's seat,” says Maldonado.
Thinking of the only solution, Maldonado was able to acquire a knife from a bystander and crawled into the vehicle to cut the gentlemen out of his seat belt. During this, Maldonado realized the gentleman was having a seizure and saying things rapidly that were not making sense. Knowing he needed to get the guy on level ground, Maldonado got the man free from the belt and pulled him towards the back of the vehicle so that he could pursue breaking the front windshield for a clean exit.
With only slides for shoes, Maldonado kicked the front windshield in with his barefoot until it was completely broken. Realizing that trying to carry the guy through that exit in his condition was not going to work, he recruited the current bystanders to help lift the gentlemen out of the car through the driver's side door.
One man held the door open and the other assisted Maldonado in lifting him up through the opening.
“Even with the man in his state I ensured to tell him what we planned to do,” says Maldonado. “ I told him, hey I’m going to use my body and get you out of here.”
Once they were able to get him safely removed from the vehicle, Maldonado went back to the vehicle to grab the guy’s personal belongings. In doing this he realized that the gentleman from the car was having a diabetic seizure after finding his insulin and medication.
With this information he was able to inform the officer who arrived on scene of the accident. With doing this, he was able to save the man's life because the officer now knew to administer medication to keep him stable until paramedics arrived.
“I did what I did because it’s what we do as Marines. I saw the accident and heard the man yelling and knew I could be of help,” says Maldonado. “ I saw where I could help and simply did something about it.”