Above the Call: Correctional Officer saves boy hit by vehicle

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Photo by Eric Owens, CDCR staff photographer
Office of Public and Employee Communications

What should have been a normal commute home for San Quentin Correctional Officer Joel Herrera rapidly turned into a life-and-death situation for a young boy.

At about 4 p.m. on Jan. 13, Officer Herrera was on his way home when he came across the scene of an accident. The officer has worked almost 10 years at the prison.

Correctional Officer Joel Herrera works at San Quentin. He recently helped save a young boy who was hit by a vehicle.

A young boy had been struck by a vehicle and was lying unconscious on the ground. Pulling his car to the side of the road, Officer Herrera rushed to the boy to offer assistance. Emergency personnel had not yet arrived.

“It looked like he was crossing the road when he got hit,” he said. “I stopped just to see if I could help. I had prior medical training in my last career as an EMT firefighter. Bystanders were just watching. They didn’t know what to do. I showed up and identified myself.”

He said he checked the child’s breathing since he appeared to be struggling for air.

“Due to my training, you always check the breathing. I checked his mouth and didn’t see any obstructions,” said Officer Herrera. “I could still hear a gurgling sound so I started looking and when I removed (some of) his clothing, that’s when I saw the (breathing) tube.”

Because it was cold, the child was wearing many layers of clothing which appeared to be cutting off his airflow.

A bystander, who identified herself as the victim’s caregiver, said the young boy was hearing impaired.

“He also had a feeding tube in his stomach and he had no ears,” said Officer Herrera. “He wasn’t able to communicate with me when I arrived.”

Cars whizzed by on the two-lane road or drivers slowed to catch a glimpse of the scene. The posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour.

“There were other vehicles stopping but just to look. No one else was assisting,” he said.

About this time a Vacaville city police officer arrived and Officer Herrera asked him for a cutting tool. The police officer handed him a pocket knife.

With the knife in hand, the correctional officer quickly cut away the boy’s clothes, freeing his breathing tube. While waiting for the ambulance, Officer Herrera stayed with the boy, ensuring he didn’t go into shock.

“He was conscious and breathing (when the ambulance arrived),” he said. “There was a filter we were able to put back on his breathing tube.”

He said his CDCR training, coupled with his EMT background, allowed him to do what needed to be done to save the boy.

“My training helped out. Both Vacaville PD and the Fire Department thanked me saying it might have been a different outcome had I not been there,” Officer Herrera said.

The officer regrets one thing about the incident.

“I wish I had gotten their contact information. I’d like to know how he’s doing,” he said.


40 Responses

  1. Jacqueline Johnson, MSW Tuesday, March 7, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Goodness to the bone. Congratulations to you both.

  2. N. ELACION Monday, March 6, 2017 / 11:28 am

    Great job, Officer Herrera. Keep it up.

  3. T Bratcher Thursday, March 2, 2017 / 9:55 am

    A true hero. God bless.

  4. PoppaRod Friday, February 24, 2017 / 10:22 am

    An amazing response by you brother, and a reminder for us all to be grateful for our children!
    Blessings to you and yours.

  5. NANCY Wednesday, February 22, 2017 / 1:26 pm


  6. J. G. PVSP Tuesday, February 21, 2017 / 11:24 am

    You displayed the epitome of what we do in this profession brother. We run TO problems while others are running AWAY. Glad you were there and acted with confidence.

  7. anon Tuesday, February 21, 2017 / 10:45 am

    A touching and impressive story. And a great reminder to all of us to brush up on our Basic Life Support skills! So glad you were the one who was there, Officer Herrera! This boy and his family will never forget you

  8. Kristina Smith Tuesday, February 21, 2017 / 9:26 am

    Awesome job Officer Herrera! May God bless you and your family for being such an amazing hero for this boy during his time of need!

  9. Josef C. Ribo Sunday, February 19, 2017 / 12:26 am

    Thank you for your presence. A life was saved. Hats off to you Officer Herrera! God bless

  10. D Robinson Saturday, February 18, 2017 / 10:00 am

    Nice! Great Job Officer Herrera. You’ve always been one to step up. God bless you Brother!

  11. Nelson Ramirez Friday, February 17, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    Great job Herrera! You make San Quentin proud

  12. C.M.Perlow Friday, February 17, 2017 / 3:23 pm

    Officer Herrera, great job!

  13. Diana Viale Friday, February 17, 2017 / 3:13 pm

    Great job. Another hero among us.

  14. J.D. Brown Friday, February 17, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Great job, brother. Glad to have worked side by side with you at the Q! You are a hero.

  15. C/O E. VAZQUEZ Friday, February 17, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    Amazing, Officer Herrera. You are a true hero! Thank you for your heroic act.

  16. LT. L. ADAMS Friday, February 17, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    Good Job Herrera, it takes a lot of heart to stop in a dangerous area and assist in saving someone’s life without hesitation. You stepped up and changed that person’s life forever. I’m sure his family is grateful. You made the San Quentin family proud. God bless your family, brother.

  17. M Torry MD Friday, February 17, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Excellent work.

  18. CCII Supervisor C. Vargas Friday, February 17, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    I love this! Way to go, Herrera. My brothers and sisters in green never cease to amaze me with the love they show our communities statewide. Handling business 24/7.

  19. AW C. Huckabay Friday, February 17, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    I know it seems simple or “the right thing to do”, but as you were quoted, so many cars just sped by or slowed down just to look. Thank you for people like you who take the initiative to see if you could be of any help! God bless you and this child.

  20. Carr Friday, February 17, 2017 / 11:49 am

    Great job, Officer Herrera. May God continue to bless you abundantly.

  21. T. Carroll Friday, February 17, 2017 / 11:42 am

    Timing is everything. Thankful for people like Officer Herrera that stop to help. It was a fortunate set of circumstance for that little boy that Officer Herrera was there for him.
    I am sure the Vacaville PD would have the boy’s information.

  22. L.T. Friday, February 17, 2017 / 11:37 am

    Truly God sent to save that little boy’s life. God bless you, Officer Herrera.

  23. Dan Friday, February 17, 2017 / 11:35 am

    Thank you brother, your courage and selfless act helped save this boy’s life.

  24. Brian Paul Friday, February 17, 2017 / 11:18 am

    Officer Herrera, extremely commendable. Great job. God bless you!

  25. Cjohnson Friday, February 17, 2017 / 11:09 am

    Thank God, you were there to help. Great job!

  26. barbara Herion Friday, February 17, 2017 / 11:09 am

    Thank you for seeing a need, responding and not hesitating to use the talent/skills you have. You undoubtedly helped to save this special needs child’s life. God has blessed you and may He continue to do so.

  27. E. Ramirez Friday, February 17, 2017 / 10:43 am

    Way to do it, Herrera! Took charge of the situation when no one else would. No doubt saving his life. Another one for the Green Team.

  28. Tina Friday, February 17, 2017 / 10:41 am

    Great job! Thank goodness you were there. You can probably contact the PD to get an update on the little boy.

  29. CSP-SAC Friday, February 17, 2017 / 10:26 am

    God bless you and all others just like you that have the helping heart that you do. For all custody staff, stay safe out there, GB.

  30. P. Clark Friday, February 17, 2017 / 10:22 am

    Thank you for stopping and not being afraid to help!

  31. CCII Cervantez Friday, February 17, 2017 / 10:16 am

    Great job Officer Herrera.
    I just wanted to say thank you for saving that young boy’s life! It is people like you that do make a difference in others’ lives. You are a great example to others who work with you every day. You deserve to feel proud and I hope you are recognized for your efforts.

  32. Irene Torres Friday, February 17, 2017 / 10:11 am

    Great job, Officer Herrera. How thankful that little boy must be and how proud your family must be of you.

  33. C/O A. Palomino Friday, February 17, 2017 / 10:01 am

    Officer J. Herrera is as solid a partner as they come. It was an honor to work along side him during my short time at the Q. Its always good seeing great Officers getting the recognition that they deserve. Keep up the great work and this department is better because of officers like J. Herrera!

  34. CCRM K. Corbin Friday, February 17, 2017 / 9:47 am

    How heroic. Good job. You’re an angel in disguise.

  35. dr b Friday, February 17, 2017 / 9:47 am

    Well done!

  36. Jane Rogan CDCR - C.I.W. Friday, February 17, 2017 / 9:44 am

    More and more CDCR employees are saving lives. Good to know that there are lots of Good Samaritans employed by CDCR. Another inspiring story to start my day. God bless Officer Herrera.

  37. Lori R. Friday, February 17, 2017 / 9:40 am

    Awesome, thanks for caring enough to stop and help. Admire your ethics!

  38. C.O. L.GRIFFIN (CCPOA JOB STEWART ) Friday, February 17, 2017 / 9:20 am

    What the Officer did was just him being himself. He is a great person to know and work with. Officer Herrera should also be acknowledged for his response in assisting an Officer during her medical crisis, here at San Quentin on Feb. 15, 2017. San Quentin is blessed with his presence.
    Thank you for choosing S.Q.

  39. C.O. K. Cummings Friday, February 17, 2017 / 8:44 am

    Oh my God! God bless you and your family. I know this has been a tough time for you on so many levels and you STILL pulled through -unselfishly- for others. You are their angel.

  40. Lt. Y. Keehmer Friday, February 17, 2017 / 7:54 am

    Great job, Officer Herrera. You were a god-send to that little boy. God bless you for being a trouper and stopping to assist that little boy, and saving his life. Too bad so many others just drove by.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *