'Do Right Thing' award for car in canal rescue

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 0 Comments

'Do Right Thing' award for car in canal rescue


After witnessing a car plunge into a canal, American Senior High School students Litz Gutierrez de la Torriente (Gutirrez) and William Tejeda knew they had to take action. While driving with her mother, little sister and boyfriend Tejeda, Gutirrez watched in shock as a car flew in the air. Out of instinct, Gutirrez demanded that her mother stopped the car. Both Tejeda and Gutierrez rushed to the scene, where Tejeda jumped into the canal to help rescue the man from the sinking car. 

“I called 911, and they didn’t understand me because I was speaking too fast,” recalled Tejeda. “These guys jumped in, so I jumped in and some guy tried to open the door. I tried opening the back door and broke the handle, so I tried going on the other side,” he continued. 

“He was dead when we got him out. He wasn’t breathing or anything, but we got him out and the car started sinking,” he said. “She (Gutierrez) came in and saved him.” 

The victim was barely hanging on to his life, without a pulse or breath. Gutierrez knew at that moment she had to do what she could to save the man’s life after witnessing someone incorrectly giving CPR. 

“When I finished he had a low pulse,” Gutierrez explained.

Even though both students knew the man was just accused of fleeing an accident he had just caused, they both knew he did not deserve to face the ultimate punishment of losing his life. Because of Tejeda and Gutierrez’s efforts, the man was revived and escaped the accident unharmed.

“How would you feel if no one helped you? That’s the main reason why I’d do a good deed for another person,” Tejeda said. “Even if he’s a criminal and he’s bleeding out, no one deserves to die.” 

Both Gutierrez and Tejeda are seniors and plan on becoming a nurse and pilot respectively. The young couple shares strong morals stressing the importance of helping people. This idea was engrained on them when they witnessed the crowd around them recording the incident instead of actively helping the situation. Had the two teens not been there to help, the man would’ve probably died with the lack of assistance. 

“There was a lot of people video taping us and not trying to assist us,” Tejeda explained. “They prefer their phones over helping somebody, it’s just not logical,” Gutierrez interjected. 

They were nominated by their teachers and became finalists for the “Do The Right Thing” ceremony, where they were joined by eight other nominees and police officers from all over Miami-Dade County. They were announced as the winners and earned an all expense paid trip to Washington D.C. 

It just so happened that about two days before the incident, Gutierrez had been in a car accident herself and was experiencing back pain which, she says, disappeared when she was helping the victim. 

Tejeda later joked about how he was chastised for jumping into the water by his mother, who said he could’ve been in alligator infested waters. The teen teased that although his mother is proud of what he did, she was concerned about her son’s safety.

The students don’t know what happened with the victim after the accident, and didn’t even get his name because he was not carrying an I.D. They did note, however, that he was taken to Memorial Hospital to be treated for his injuries. 

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