If you would, do a quick mental inventory of the professions that pop into your head when you hear the word “hero.” A police officer, firefighter and soldier probably turn up.
Perhaps a doctor or nurse also make appearances. For people of my generation, an astronaut was also a contender.
One profession that you likely wouldn’t associate with heroism is tow truck driver. But a brave man out of Williams, California, is showing that tow truck drivers can be just as courageous as the rest on that list.
According to WQAD-TV, Christian Melendrez was driving in his tow truck down I-5 on Feb. 15 when he noticed something odd happening during what should’ve been a routine traffic stop. In fact, the moment transpired so quickly that he almost missed it.
Hero – Tow truck driver Christian Melendrez stops roadside to help police stabbed in back. “It was quick. I saw two bodies on the ground wrestling and I thought, ‘Oh, shoot, it’s probably the officer.'” @CTTAtweets https://t.co/16uuO6EImF pic.twitter.com/cw76dTRFjd
— Tow Times Magazine (@TowTimesMag) February 20, 2019
“Think about it,” he said. “I’m 70 mph when I passed by.
“It was quick. I saw two bodies on the ground wrestling, and I thought, ‘Oh, shoot, it’s probably the officer.’”
Melendrez pulled over without hesitating and ran to where he saw California Highway Patrol Officer Philip Martinson tussling with a woman named Haile Neil.
Melendrez didn’t know what was going on until he heard Martinson yelled that Neil had stabbed him. It turned out that the had pulled the woman over after clocking her at more than 100 mph.
She seemed inebriated and the confrontation quickly turned violent. Melendrez was the only one standing between the pair and a very bad ending.
“The next thing was, ‘Can you grab some handcuffs? Help me,’” Melendrez told KCRA-TV. “So I did. I took the handcuffs off his belt from the back, turned her over, got one arm in, put one on, got the other one.
“And then I turned her over and realized the blade was still underneath her. So I grabbed the blade and threw it on the asphalt.”
A shocked Melendrez not only saved both people from a potential fatality, but he also discovered something about himself: He liked the work of law enforcement.
“First time I ever put handcuffs on anybody,” he said. “So that worked out pretty well.”
He also said that he’s now considering becoming a police officer, and the California Highway Patrol is willing to help that become a reality.
California Highway Patrol Officer Franco Castillo said, “It’s pretty heroic. It was something that he didn’t need to do, but he did, and we’re all grateful.”
Perhaps no one is as grateful as Officer Martinson. He’s currently recovering at home and expected to make a full recovery.
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