Many hundreds of people drove past a car crash on Interstate 15 during morning rush hour. Ho-hum, just another delay.
Tammy Killen didn’t keep going. She was on her way to a routine doctor’s appointment. She was going to be late. But she stopped to help, and she may have saved a woman’s life.
It wasn’t a decision she made, she said. It was just what she did.
“It was strictly adrenaline and instinct,” she said.
There’s more to it than that, though, and the American Red Cross recognizes this. The agency’s Southern Nevada chapter will honor Killen and people like her at its annual Everyday Heroes event Thursday.
“People are hungry for stories like these,” said Lloyd Ziel, an agency spokesman.
He noted that in today’s world, we’ve all become very good at keeping up with the bad news. The car crashes and the congressional clashes and the generally depressing stuff that goes on out in the world.
But the good news?
“We don’t get to hear about it sometimes, the good that people are doing on the grassroots level, that we can all relate to,” he said.
So, the Everyday Heroes.
The event, at 7:30 a.m. Thursday in the ballrooms of the Paris Las Vegas on the Strip, is in its seventh year.
It aims to bring attention to the regular folks who do good deeds every day, but rarely get recognized for it.
This year’s honorees include a hotel maid who rescued a choking baby, a state trooper who led four teenagers away from a burning home, the entire team of firefighters who fought the Carpenter 1 Fire over the summer, and two young lifeguards who saved a woman and her child from drowning.
“It’s a good opportunity to show how a little action can save a person’s life, change a person’s life, save a person from suffering. Save an animal from suffering,” Ziel said. “Change the community we all live in for the better.”
That is what Dilon Baker and Manny Mayorga did a few months ago.
They were working as lifeguards at the WorldMark by Wyndham resort on South Las Vegas Boulevard. Baker was heading back over to see Mayorga after helping out a kid with a bloody nose when he saw Mayorga running.
There, in the lazy river, Mayorga was helping a woman who, it turned out later, had a seizure while floating with her toddler.
She was blue. “She had no pulse,” Baker said. “She wasn’t breathing.”
They laid her out on the concrete and Baker began CPR while the woman’s husband did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She came back and passed out again three separate times, Baker said.
Eventually, an ambulance came, and she and her toddler were OK in the end.
“When you train to be a lifeguard, you don’t ever think you’re going to be doing anything crazy like that,” Baker said.
And yet, he said, he never hesitated. He just did what he was supposed to do.
Killen, the woman who helped out in the car crash, said the same thing. It’s what the heroes say every year. They just did what anyone else would have done.
But hundreds of cars passed Killen up that day before the cops arrived. Only one other car pulled over.
None stopped when Killen approached the car and found a woman lying across the front seats. None stopped when she saw that the woman had a gash from her upper cheek to below her chin, bleeding heavily. None stopped while Killen found a sweater in the car and pressed it to the wound and kept the woman talking by asking her routine questions, just so that she wouldn’t go into shock.
Killen, 41, a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, did it all.
Later on, after she got to her doctor’s appointment late, after she washed the blood off, she did stop to think back on all of it.
She said it was as if the woman were looking at her in slow motion. Like something out of a movie. She remembered getting freaked out, but just for a second.
After that, she he said, she just did what anyone else would have done.
Contact reporter Richard Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0307. You can find him on Twitter at @richardlake.