Two Avenal State Prison employees helped save a woman after her car crashed down the side of a steep embankment.

Two Avenal State Prison employees helped save a woman after her car crashed down the side of a steep embankment.

After rescue, Lieutenants kept victim calm while waiting for emergency crews

By Rosemary Ndoh, Chief Deputy Warden
Avenal State Prison

Two Avenal State Prison Lieutenants, while on their way home, helped save a young woman after her car crashed down the side of a hill.

While Lt. John Mendiboure and Lt. Mike Tuntakit were leaving the prison, they were flagged down by a truck driver who saw a car hit a telephone pole and careen down the side of a steep embankment. The car plummeted 100 yards to the bottom.

Lt. Tuntakit quickly made his way down the embankment and Lt. Mendiboure immediately called for emergency services.  Lt. Tuntakit attempted several times to make contact with the victim, later identified as 17-year-old named Amber.

She was slow to respond but finally yelled, “I hear you. I’m here.”

The teenager's car was severely damaged after plummeting 100 yards down an embankment on Avenal Hill.

The teenager’s car was severely damaged after plummeting 100 yards down an embankment on Avenal Hill.

During the incident, Amber was continually reassured she would be alright.  Due to the angle of the hill and the position of the car, the doors were jammed shut and there was only one window large enough to extract Amber from the wreckage.

Lt. Mendiboure arrived just as smoke began to rise from the engine. Fearing possible fire or explosion, Lt. Tuntakit grabbed a large rock which Lt. Mendiboure used to break the driver window. He cleared the debris for Amber to get out.

Amber crawled out from the driver’s window with assistance from both Lieutenants.  She used one of the Lieutenant’s cell phones to call her family.

Members of the prison’s Peer Support Program, Lt. Mendiboure and Lt. Tuntakit continued to talk to Amber to keep her calm since she appeared to be in shock.

The Fire Department and Avenal Police arrived at the scene.  Both Lieutenants assisted Amber up to the top of the hill to the fire engine for medical treatment.

Later that day, the Lieutenants received a thank you text from the mother along with a heartfelt phone call from Amber thanking them both for their help as well as talking to her during the incident. Amber said she had no serious injuries and felt lucky to be alive.