By Sgt. Katherine Cruz, AA/PIO
Pleasant Valley State Prison
In late 2017, Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) Correctional Case Records Analyst Heather Muela and her family were driving home and came upon the scene of a hit-and-run accident, which left a pedestrian lying in the road.
Heather and her husband Joshua, an Avenal State Prison Assistant Information Systems Analyst, felt compelled to help. Trained in CPR, she believed she could help the victim. Leaving her husband to stay in the car with their two young children, she rushed to the scene.
She was the first to respond to the scene. Other vehicles sped by, unaware of an injured woman in the roadway. After assessing the scene, Heather could see a female pedestrian lying in the road. It was evident, based on her injuries, that the victim had already passed.
Other people gathered at the scene of the accident appeared to be associated with the victim and they were in shock. Heather saw a potential for another accident if traffic was not diverted and the pedestrians were not escorted to the roadside. She quickly drew upon her experience as a youth group leader and started leading.
She immediately called 911 and requested emergency assistance. Heather then led the other pedestrians out of the road and started directing traffic away from the accident scene until emergency response vehicles arrived.
Once Emergency personnel arrived on the scene, Heather was able to return to her family in their vehicle.
The Fresno Police Department determined that the driver of the vehicle that hit the pedestrian fled the scene of the accident. A witness followed the driver who eventually abandoned his car approximately a quarter mile away and then ran away through neighboring yards as police closed in. The driver was eventually taken into custody.
Although Heather was unable to save the pedestrian, her willingness to put her safety in jeopardy by preventing other potential injuries by diverting traffic and moving other pedestrians from the scene was courageous and reflective of her selflessness.
Correctional Case Records Supervisor Regina Gomez, Heather’s supervisor, had many great things to say about Heather.
“I am not surprised by her efforts that day. Her willingness to help others reflects in her daily lifestyle, not just at work,” Gomez said. “She has a huge heart and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Heather began her career with the department on Dec. 4, 2006, when she was hired at PVSP as an Office Assistant in the Records Department. She remained in that position until it was reallocated to a Correctional Case Records Technician on July 8, 2008. Heather then promoted to a Correctional Case Records Analyst on June 6, 2016.