Watsonville, California, police officers and good Samaritans recently worked together to lift a stolen car off a trapped 65-year-old cyclist who was struck by the vehicle.
Body-camera footage of the dramatic incident released by the Watsonville Police Department showed responding officers aided by five or six helpful citizens who assisted in lifting the car and ultimately saving the cyclist’s life.
The incident took place on December 15 after Watsonville police approached the stolen car on Main Street and Pacific Avenue. The suspect, 22-year-old Enrique Garcia, jumped out of the driver’s side of the moving vehicle and fled after police arrived. The car continued to move forward, struck the cyclist and pinned him underneath it.
Police interviewed one of the good Samaritans, Marvin Luna, in a video posted on Facebook. Luna said he was on a lunch break when he heard police yelling for help and came running.
“I just did what I could,” Luna said. “Everything was happening so fast. All I really wanted to do was help.”
The body-camera video showed the group of men working in unison to lift the vehicle, with someone shouting: “Lift! Lift! Lift!”
After the cyclist was pulled to freedom, paramedics arrived to render further assistance. The cyclist is currently recovering from his injuries and is in stable condition.
“I came back to work and I told my coworkers, you’re not going to believe it, like, one of the craziest lunches I’ve ever had!” Luna said.
Corporal Isaak Rodriguez was proud of the team’s quick efforts to lift the car off the victim’s chest.
“Seconds matter,” he said. “He was gasping for air.”
Watsonville police said Garcia was chased down by officers and taken into custody. He was later booked at the Santa Cruz County Jail. He faces charges including possession of a stolen vehicle, reckless driving causing bodily injury and evading a peace officer with disregard for safety.
Police are still looking to find all those who helped that day, in the hopes of honoring them for their heroic act. Spokesperson Michelle Pulido offered thanks on behalf of the city of Watsonville: “If it wasn’t for them, this could have turned into a complete tragedy, so we’re extremely thankful for the residents who without hesitation, ran in, helped our officers and because of that, today, this man is alive.”
The responding officers were moved by the good deed, as well. “Knowing that there’s still people out there that are willing to help, help out a complete stranger in a time of need, it’s one of the greatest feelings that I’ve ever felt,” Rodriguez said.