Spirit of Courage Award: Alfredo Berumen
Alfredo Berumen was on his way to work early in the morning on March 7, 2022, on I-8 when he saw smoke on the horizon as the sun was coming up. When he got closer to the smoke, he saw an overturned SUV – with a fire raging on top of the upside-down SUV. He initially thought he could use a fire extinguisher in his semi-truck, but quickly realized that wouldn’t be enough to put out the large fire. Thinking the car was empty after using a headlamp to peer through the rear broken window, he started to walk back to his truck – and then he heard a voice coming from the SUV.
He broke the window open with his pocket knife window puncher, reached through the flames, and cut the driver out of her seatbelt. As he went to pull her out, a bystander helped him fully open the door and helped to literally lift the dashboard up just enough to free the driver’s legs that were pinned under the dash — and Alfredo removed her from the fire-engulfed car.
The driver’s legs were on fire and Alfredo took off his own hoodie to put out the flames while the bystander grabbed a bottle of water to assist. It wasn’t until after emergency personnel arrived that he realized he had a small burn on his hand.
Alfredo credits his earlier-than-normal schedule with being in the right place at the right time, where he had slowed his speed on the freeway since he was early for his delivery that morning.