Two CDCR Correctional Officers save man’s life

By Don Chaddock, InsideCDCR editor
Photo by Lt. Arnel Bona, Deuel Vocational Institution

Two Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) Correctional Officers are credited with saving a man’s life after he suffered a major heart attack and ran his car off the road in Elk Grove.

Correctional Officers John Farnetti and Chad Painter were on their way to work the swing shift at DVI on Oct. 31 when they spotted a vehicle in the middle of a field off Interstate 5.

They pulled over and Officer Farnetti hopped the four-foot high barbed-wire fence. Meanwhile, Officer Painter attempted to flag down help on the freeway.

Correctional Officers John Farnetti, left, and Chad Painter work at Deuel Vocational Institute. Recently, on their way to work, they saved a man's life.

Correctional Officers John Farnetti, left, and Chad Painter work at Deuel Vocational Institute. Recently, on their way to work, they saved a man’s life.

“Here was a car in the middle of a field where a farmer’s truck with hay should be,” Officer Farnetti recalled. “It just didn’t look right.”

Officer Painter agreed.

“There was a Honda Civic in the middle of an open field with the windshield wipers moving back and forth and we could see some kind of steam coming from the vehicle,” he said. “When we pulled over, it was a sprint to the car. My partner found a spot to climb the fence while I called 911.”

When Officer Farnetti approached the car, he noticed the air bags had deployed. Inside was a man slumped over and only semi-conscious.

Despite efforts to flag down help, no one stopped.

“My partner was doing jumping jacks, basically, trying to get someone to stop and help,” Officer Farnetti said. “We were about 50 or 60 yards from the freeway in this desolate field so everyone could see us. It’s kind of sad no one stopped.”

Officer Painter said it was very discouraging.

“I was jumping up and down, trying to get somebody to pull over to assist,” he said. “About then, Officer Farnetti got to the vehicle and yelled, ‘There’s somebody in here.’ That’s when I went at a full sprint and hopped the fence.”

The two found the car’s doors were locked so they tried to get the man’s attention.

“I was banging on the car to keep him alert and we could see he was breathing,” Officer Painter said. “We thought he was in shock.”

The victim didn’t respond. The officers tried gaining access another way and Officer Farnetti knew time was valuable.

“When I first came up to the car, I could see a little movement and he was still breathing. When I was looking for something to break the window, there was nothing but plots of dirt and dried up cow patties, it was like a scavenger hunt,” he said. “I didn’t want to take the time to go back to my car, because it was too far away.”

Officer Painter said he tried everything to get in the car.

“We started looking around to find something to break the window. I was throwing dirt clods and keys at the window trying to break it,” Officer Painter recalled. “Then my partner found this rock and threw it through the window.”

With the window broken, they unlocked the doors and pulled the man out of the car and found the victim had stopped breathing.

“My partner did CPR until he got exhausted, then I took over,” Officer Painter said. “We were yelling and screaming and trying to keep the victim alert. When we pulled him out of the vehicle, we couldn’t find a pulse. We think he basically flat-lined and died. Then he kept gasping between CPR (efforts). We were pulling him back.”

The officers took turns performing CPR until paramedics arrived. The paramedics asked Officer Painter to continue CPR while they readied the defibrillator. After paramedics gave him a shock with the defibrillator, the victim was transported to the hospital.

Keeping in contact

The two Correctional Officers headed to work and finished their shifts but wanted to know what happened to the man they pulled from the car.

They visited the hospital and were told the man, Carlos Robles, had suffered a massive heart attack and was in the intensive care unit following emergency heart surgery.

The Correctional Officers continue to be in touch with the man and his family. According to hospital staff, if the officers hadn’t stopped to help, he probably would have died alone in the middle of the field. Mr. Robles is expected to make a full recovery and his family appreciates the effort of the officers.

“We are so grateful God put them on that freeway at that moment,” said his step-daughter, Claudia Martinez. “Now my step-dad is alive because of them.”

The heart attack happened only four days before Mr. Robles’ birthday. Both officers paid him a visit in the hospital on his birthday.

“It was special,” said Officer Farnetti.

Robles’ step-daughter said the family was thankful for the care shown by the officers.

“The fact they took the time to come visit him in the hospital to see how he was doing means a lot to our family,” said Martinez. “Officer Painter spoke to me and said my step-dad was in his prayers. That meant so much to me.”

Officer Farnetti said they’ve exchanged addresses and are planning a get-together when Mr. Robles is feeling up to such activity.

Officers advise others to stop and help

“Maybe if his car was upside down or if his car was on fire, they would have stopped,” Officer Farnetti said. “People must have thought, since his tires were on the ground, he was OK. But you never know until you check. Semi-trucks were just honking and no one was stopping.”

Officer Farnetti said it was surprising no one helped, considering it was in the middle of the day in a wide-open field with hundreds of vehicles passing by on the interstate.

“As we’re dragging this limp body out of a car it was 1 p.m., daylight, so everybody could see. I don’t know what they were thinking,” he said. “It was really bizarre to us no one was stopping. We’re the kind of people who stop.”

Officer Painter echoed his statement.

“If you see something that doesn’t look right, doesn’t feel right, pull over and help,” he said. “I would never have imagined people wouldn’t stop. To know we were given an opportunity to help is priceless. John and I are both men of faith so to be able to do God’s work, what an amazing experience to be able to save a life, to be able to give back.”

Officer Farnetti said for them to pass by at just the right moment was more than coincidence.

“We feel like we were there at the right time to help this guy because nobody else was going to help,” he said.

Officer Painter said CPR is a valuable skill everyone should learn.

“There were so many different emotions during the incident. You never think you’re going to have to apply your training,” Officer Painter said. “I think all of us should be certified in CPR and first aid. It’s one thing to do it in the prison walls because it’s our job, but to do it outside, it’s such a gift, to save a loved one.”

Officer credits the other with taking the lead

“It was a very surreal experience. Everything was like in slow motion,” said Officer Painter. “For us to be there at that time, to preserve a life, is something beyond words. Our training kicked in.”

Officer Painter calls his partner heroic.

“My partner, what a hero,” he said. “To be a part of something like that with John Farnetti, to see him in that situation, it leaves me speechless.”


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30 Responses

  1. Kelly Placeres Monday, November 17, 2014 / 6:06 pm

    It’s wonderful to know there are good people like you both that would stop to help someone in need. This is the season we are to be thankful. Well, I think I can speak for us all that we are thankful for you both!

  2. Robert Scott Monday, November 17, 2014 / 4:27 pm

    Darned fine work!
    Mr. Robles’ family will forever be in your debt for the shining example of compassion and selflessness you showed that fateful day, whether you like it or not.
    Also, despite how you feel, you two are heroes in every sense of the word. Remember, without you two, Mr. Robles and his family would have had to attend a funeral and not just spend some time in and around a hospital.

  3. R. Lozano Sunday, November 16, 2014 / 4:25 pm

    Men of Faith, God put you guys in the right place at the right time… Thank You
    Let His light shine….

  4. GD SHIRLEY Sunday, November 16, 2014 / 3:30 am

    Awesome intervention. You guys did what it took to save a life and to be so humble. No, you need to be recognized for what you are: heroes! God will bless you.

  5. Lori.Ross RN Saturday, November 15, 2014 / 12:28 am

    Thank you for taking your time to save Carlos Robles.
    We can all take the time and plan on helping save a life when someone is in our path of travel.
    Nice story with a lesson for all of us, and a happy ending for Mr. Robles.
    Yes, heroic and may God continue to bless both of you with long life!

    Lori Ross, RN, at CIW

  6. LT Mike Dunn Friday, November 14, 2014 / 9:41 pm

    Great job guys! John, if you read this, send me an email.

  7. Carol Pimentel Friday, November 14, 2014 / 8:11 pm

    What a blessing that Good Samaritans Officers Painter and Farnetti were there when needed. Prayers to Mr. Robles for a speedy recovery. Also prayers for people in general to soften their hearts to stop and help one another. God bless 🙂

  8. Nancy Friday, November 14, 2014 / 4:51 pm

    Officer Painter and Officer Farnetti, so thankful you followed the leading of the Spirit of God. Keep doing God’s work! You are a testimony of the Love of God to this selfish world. God’s blessings always … and God bless Mr. Robles. You could be the one to lead him to the Lord. God has a plan.

  9. Angela Friday, November 14, 2014 / 4:37 pm

    Hero is a great title for both of these officers, having integrity and taking time to care for a stranger is rare. It is an amazing story I will always remember! Dad (Farnetti), I am proud of you. You always seem to do the right thing no matter how hard it may be. I am forever greatful for you and your daily example of doing the right thing, compassion and kindness. You are amazing. Much love, Angela.

  10. Sgt. M. D. Williams, CCWF Friday, November 14, 2014 / 4:07 pm

    How amazing the replies from friends, family and CDCR family reflecting the great reputation these Officers bring to the table. Godly men in CDCR! I love it. Great job brothers and all those who took out time to comment. God bless the saved gentleman and you all.

    Sgt. M. D. Williams CCWF

  11. Michelle Keim Friday, November 14, 2014 / 7:10 am

    Chad Painter,
    You have always had such a huge heart. You have always stepped up to do the right thing. Mr. Robles was blessed to have you and your partner help save his life.

  12. Lou Buren Friday, November 14, 2014 / 5:31 am

    Very proud of you both. When someone needed saving, you two jumped into action and did just that. True heroes!

  13. CHKODI B. OKORO Friday, November 14, 2014 / 12:04 am

    You two are great Samaritans of 2014. We need more people like you. God will surely reward you for your good work. God bless you.

  14. Pat R Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 6:47 pm

    You are very special people. Thanks for saving a life. We appreciate your efforts so much.

  15. Kaye Ferguson Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 6:30 pm

    What a blessing that God used both of you to save this man’s life. We need more people like you. Chad, we are very blessed to have you for our son-in-law.

  16. Natalia Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 5:24 pm

    Great Job to both of you! You’re both heroes. Good to know there are still good people out there willing to help.
    God bless ♥

  17. Samuel Ferguson Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 5:07 pm

    I have always been proud to have you for my son-in-law, not only because of the way you respect my daughter, but because of your respect for all people. I’m very very proud of you. Being retired from law enforcement, I have the utmost respect for all law enforcement officers.

  18. Tami Holtz Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 4:23 pm

    You guys rock. God has a plan for us all.

  19. K. Witt Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 4:17 pm

    Strong work!

  20. jim Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 7:10 am

    My hat is off to both of you! Great job, men. Keep up the good work brothers.

  21. Penny Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 1:24 am

    To Officer Painter, my husband, there aren’t enough words to describe how proud I am. I knew you were a wonderful God fearing man when I married you and so it is not surprising God chose you and John to perform his blessings. You have always been my hero, and you always will! You are the true definition of what a man is and should be!
    Your wife

  22. Julene Elisary Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 12:48 am

    I’m proud to have you two as my co-workers, brothers in green. You guys did an awesome job in saving this man’s life. It’s good to know there are still good people like you out there and sad that others turned a blind eye. Great job, guys!

  23. Jeff Soares Wednesday, November 12, 2014 / 11:28 pm

    What a terrific story! Officers Farnetti and Painter are true heroes.

  24. Kevin McMahon Wednesday, November 12, 2014 / 10:25 pm

    What a great story about two heroes in our midst. Way to go, gentlemen. I hope all of us remember this story and act similarly if we ever find ourselves able to help someone who might be in need.

    Well done, heroes. Very well done.
    May God bless you both for your humility and actions.

    Kevin McMahon

  25. Dave brown Wednesday, November 12, 2014 / 10:23 pm

    So proud of both of you! Great job, guys.

  26. RJ Hernandez Wednesday, November 12, 2014 / 8:47 pm

    True heroes. Awesome job, Chad and John. I am so proud of the both of you.

  27. Fran Conlin Wednesday, November 12, 2014 / 7:09 pm

    Always nice to have some good press for CDCR. Way to go, fellas!

  28. Corey Rocamora Wednesday, November 12, 2014 / 6:44 pm

    This is a very awesome story of the officers saving this man’s life…but also sad because no one else stopped. Officer Painter, you and your partner are true hereos. Prayers for Mr. Robles on a speedy recovery.

  29. Paul Williams Wednesday, November 12, 2014 / 5:58 pm

    This is a really amazing story! And it saddens me that despite these two officers coming to the rescue of someone’s life, all others who drove by went on about their business. The man is very lucky to be alive and we need more people in our society like those brave and heroic officers.

    • John Sharkey Thursday, November 13, 2014 / 12:20 am

      Very uplifting.
      Many people who respond to someone being in danger, either to assist or save a life, they often say, “Don’t thank me, really. I’m not a hero, anyone would have helped…”
      Well, apparently not.
      I say your actions are heroic and deserving of every praise.
      Good on you both.
      God bless!

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