Anthony Garcia’s quick thinking during an emergency on the freeway in March cost him his job, but on Thursday the Clark County Fire Department honored him with the first Citizen Heroism Award given in more than a year.
“It’s amazing,” he said of receiving an award for heroism from “real heroes.”
On the morning of March 10, Garcia was driving a Freeway Service Patrol vehicle when he came upon a crash near an Interstate 15 offramp at Spring Mountain Road.
A witness to the crash told him the driver was having a seizure, and Garcia saw the driver slumped over in his car. But then he saw the car drive off and down the off-ramp.
“It wasn’t under control. It was bouncing off the wall, into traffic and back again into the left wall, so I ran back to my truck and chased after him as best I could,” he said.
Garcia used his work truck to stop the vehicle from moving farther down the ramp and onto the busy road. He got fired for crashing a work vehicle, but Garcia said he does not regret it.
“A job is not worth a life,” he said.
The Freeway Service Patrol is a service provided by the Nevada Department of Transportation. A spokesman for the department declined to comment Thursday, other than to say Garcia was a contractor who worked for Quality Towing.
Quality Towing general manager Bruce San Fillippo said the company hadn’t authorized Garcia to take such actions.
“He’s a nice young man, but none of my employees are trained, authorized or otherwise instructed to perform these maneuvers,” he said. “I just can’t have that kind of liability.”
Garcia and his family gathered Thursday at the Fire Department’s training center to meet with the crew that responded to the crash and nominated him for the award.
Fire Chief Greg Cassell said Garcia prevented a tragedy and put himself at risk to do it.
“It’s not something we do all the time,” Cassell said of his department’s decision to give the award. “We only do it when certain special occasions arise.”
Contact Wesley Juhl at firstname.lastname@example.org and 702-383-0391. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter.