FAIRFIELD — Perry Hookey sprang into action when a big rig tumbled down the Highway 37 embankment in Vallejo and caught fire with the driver trapped inside.
The driver was unconscious. Hookey, who works for Medic Ambulance Service, happened to be on the scene. He recalled on Friday what went through his mind that day last January.
“Just getting the guy out,” Hookey said. “Just getting him out. Just sitting there and watching him burn — I couldn’t do it.”
He had two other bystanders get a knife to cut the driver’s seatbelt. He then pulled the driver out of the truck, suffering a burn in the process. Unfortunately, the driver later died.
The American Red Cross on Friday honored Hookey and 10 others at the 2013 Solano County Heroes Breakfast. It took place at the NorthBay Healthcare Administration Center conference room.
Master Sgt. Kristin Feola got honored for possibly saving a life. She was on a 10-kilometer march carrying a 30-pound ruck sack at Travis Air Force Base in May when she saw another participant sitting by the side of the road, red-faced and sweating.
Feola recognized the signs of heat stress. She got the victim into the shade and cooled her off with a wet towel. She made a makeshift bed and made certain an ambulance got called.
“She needed help,” Feola said Friday. “I just reacted. I have a lot of medical training. I just kicked into autopilot.”
Speaker David Orris said the breakfast honored the courageous, kind and noble. Then he challenged those in the audience to be heroes themselves.
“You’ve got within your heart that courage to do extraordinary things,” he said.
Also honored at the breakfast were:
- Airman First Class Michael Brown Jr. Brown was on a team-building exercise in El Dorado National Forest in May when another participant fell and suffered a 3-inch-deep leg wound. Brown created a tourniquet out of branches and belts and coordinated a four-person team to move the victim a mile to an ambulance.
- Vacaville Police Detective Nathan Benevides helped create a downtown camera surveillance system. The system helped police catch suspects in a jewelry store robbery.
- Solano County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Brian Bero and Jason Speakman saw a pickup truck slowly swerving near children along Orchard Street in Fairfield. The driver was unconscious. Bero reached through the window and put the truck gearshift into the park position.
- Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation has provided more than 14,000 prosthetic hands around the world. Ernie Meadows developed the low-cost model and Michael Mendonca has helped lead the distribution effort.
- Sandra Vargas established the nonprofit group Foster Greatness in Vallejo to help foster children and their parents.
- Marcia Gordon and Susan Turner are volunteers with Court Appointed Special Advocates to help foster children. They’ve gone further and help find family members of foster care children.
- Larry Bluford Jr. in 2003 founded Operation THUGS, or The Harvest Unit Gathering Souls. It helps the homeless, doing such things as providing food and toiletries to the homeless at Allan Witt Park in Fairfield.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.
hero breakfast 10_11_13
hero breakfast 10_11_13
Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.