By Lt. Mike Tuntakit, AA/Public Information Officer
Avenal State Prison
Dec. 10 was a normal day for Avenal State Prison Correctional Lt. John Mendiboure. He and his wife were returning home from the Bay area when they came across a vehicle wedged underneath the back of a semi-truck, smoking curling up from under the hood. There were no emergency crews on scene and the accident, on the right side of the freeway, appeared to have just happened. The Mendiboures went into action to try to save a young man trapped inside.
The car was severely damaged and smoking from the engine compartment. Lt. Mendiboure quickly responded to the vehicle and found a victim unconscious in the driver’s seat with a severe gash on his head.
Carey Mendiboure, John’s wife, retrieved their travel trauma kit and returned to the wrecked vehicle, where she started trying to help the victim.
Traffic was still driving by and on-lookers did not know what to do, according to Lt. Mendiboure.
He tried prying open the doors but but they were pinned shut. Without regard for his safety and seeing the victim in need of urgent medical care, Mendiboure took off his shirt to protect his hands and pulled out what was left of the front windshield. He reached through and stabilized the victim’s head.
The victim was going in and out of consciousness, apparently in shock. Lt. Mendiboure and his wife tended to the head wounds to slow down the bleeding while reassuring the victim he was going to be OK and emergency services were on the way. With disregard to his personal safety as he leaned over the smoking engine, Mendiboure continued to hold the victim’s head steady until paramedics arrived and used the “Jaws of Life” to extract the victim.
Lt. Mendiboure credits his CDCR training, knowing he needed to stay calm if the young man was going to survive the accident.