By Lt. Katherine Cruz, AA/PIO
Pleasant Valley State Prison
On July 11, 2017 at approximately 7:45 p.m., Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) Supervising Correctional Cook Carlos Rodriguez was headed home after his shift when he saw an SUV swerving back and forth across the road.
He was driving on a long stretch of country road between Coalinga and Lemoore and the SUV’s erratic movement caught his attention. Sensing the driver had lost control of the vehicle and that an accident was imminent, he immediately called 911. The SUV made a sharp turn, taking down a power pole, causing the SUV to roll over once, coming to rest in an irrigation canal.
Without hesitation, Rodriguez pulled over and approached the vehicle as a woman was climbing out of the wreck with her small daughter.
Rodriguez told the woman help was on its way. The woman informed him that there were two more children in the car.
Without thought for his own safety, he immediately went down into knee deep water of the canal to pull out the other children. The air-bags of the SUV were deployed which made it difficult to enter through the driver-side door.
“I noticed the power lines were starting to spark and knew I had to try and get the children out as soon as possible. I jumped into the canal, opened the back passenger door and pulled the two little girls out of their car seats and took them to safety,” he said.
Another responding motorist came to the scene of the accident and assisted in hoisting the little girls out of the canal. Once police and emergency medical assistance arrived, Rodriguez let them take over and continued on his journey home.
“We are proud of Carlos. His willingness to put himself into harm’s way in a potentially dangerous situation to render aid and safety to a mother and her children is an act of bravery and selflessness that should be applauded,” said PVSP Chief Deputy Warden Jonathan Buckley.
PVSP Warden Scott Frauenheim said, “Carlos’s actions are remarkable and truly brave.”
Rodriguez joined the Department in August 2006 as a Correctional Supervising Cook at Avenal State Prison. In October 2016, he promoted to a Supervising Correctional Cook at PVSP where he works in the Central Kitchen.