A Golder Ranch firefighter, two Pima County Sheriff deputies, a Tucson Police Department officer and three local citizens will be honored for life-saving acts of bravery and quick-thinking at the 2015 Heroes Day award ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 at La Encantada courtyard, 2805 E. Skyline Dr.

Peter Rhee, MD, director of the Level 1 Trauma Program at Banner – University Medical Center, and Jeanette Mare, founder of the Ben’s Bells kindness initiative, will introduce the honorees. KOLD-TV 13 newsman Dan Marries will emcee this seventh annual event.

The public is invited to attend the awards ceremony and sign a banner thanking all law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, Border Patrol agents and others who work to keep the community safe and help Southern Arizonans in times of crisis.

As part of Heroes Day on Oct. 15, event partners Jack Furrier Tire & Auto Care and Banner – University Medical Center will host uniformed first responders to a free lunch at one of the following Jack Furrier locations: 8080 E. 22nd St.; 4291 W. Ina Road; 7846 N. Oracle Road; 370 W. Grant Road and 51 E. Valencia Road.

Heroes Day Winners 2015

Firefighter Adam Kroger

Firefighter Adam Kroger Golder Ranch Fire District

On Feb. 27, 2015, firefighter Adam Kroger was heading eastbound on Interstate 10 near the Sonoita exit, when he witnessed a semi-tractor trailer crash into the median at highway speed. He pulled over and began to make his way over to the vehicle.

When he arrived at the vehicle, he saw that the cab had separated and fallen forward, while the front of the trailer had caught fire and exploded approximately 20 feet away. The driver was laying upward on the inside roof of his cab, conscious and alert with lacerations and a compound break to his right leg. Due to the brush fire that had started from the explosion of the trailer, it was important that the driver be removed from the vehicle and moved as far away as possible.

With the help of other bystanders, they were able to lift the patient to the roadway where they awaited the arrival of first responders. Thanks to hero Adam Kroger and the helpful bystanders, the driver was safely removed from his vehicle and was able to receive the medical attention he needed.

Deputy Adrian Gallo and Deputy Joe Serrano

Deputy Adrian Gallo and Deputy Joe Serrano Pima County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy Adrian Gallo and Deputy Joe Serrano Pima County Sheriff’s Department

On May 16, 2015, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department received a call reporting a collision at the intersection of North Bopp Road and West Camino Verde. Two vehicles had collided head on and were on fire. Deputy Adrian Gallo arrived on the scene and directed bystanders on how to help remove one of the victims who was still trapped inside his car, while he went to assist the other vehicle where a woman was trapped inside. He was able to cut her seatbelt, but due to the damage attained from the crash, he was not able to open the driver-side door. He attempted to pull her out from the passenger side, but this did not work either.

After these attempts, Deputy Joe Serrano arrived on the scene. His patrol vehicle was equipped with a winch, which they were able to use to pry open the driver’s door. The woman was removed from her vehicle and transported to the Trauma Center at Banner – University Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. Deputy Gallo, who suffered smoke inhalation, also was transported for treatment.

With the quick thinking and use of the tools on hand, these deputies were able to perform some heroic actions. With no regards to their own safety, they put the safety of others first and in the end were able to save this woman’s life.

Officer Robert “Bobby” Kelly

On Feb. 20, 2015, off-duty Officer Robert “Bobby” Kelly and his wife, Stephanie Kelly, a nursing student at the time and now an RN for Banner UMC, were driving down Houghton Road towards the I-10 on ramp when they noticed an SUV stopped in the middle of the Interstate. The vehicle looked as if it had been in a rollover accident, with damage to the roof of the vehicle. As they approached the scene, Officer Kelly noticed smoke coming from the vehicle and proceeded to turn the vehicle off. When he walked to the other side of the vehicle, he noticed three bodies lying in the roadway. One of the bodies had suffered obvious fatal injuries, while the other two bodies were attended to by his wife and others who had stopped to help.

Officer Kelly noticed another passenger in the front passenger seat who was alert and conscious, but had suffered a wound in his left arm that was bleeding heavily. He tried to wrap his belt around the victim’s arm, but this was ineffective and the heavy bleeding continued. Officer Kelly found metal tubing in the wreckage and was able to use this along with the belt to help slow the bleeding until other medical personnel could arrive. His wife Stephanie attended to the female on the side of the road by trying to open up her trachea and maintain her airway. The female unfortunately was unresponsive to these treatments.

Officer Kelly and his wife are true heroes, and due to their quick reactions to this incident they were able to provide these victims with their best chance of survival, given that there were no first responders on the scene.

Aaron Romero, Alexander Stewart, and Andrew Miles

On April 3, 2015, on the westbound frontage road of Interstate 10 between Cortaro and Twin Peaks Road, Andrew Miles, Aaron Romero, and Alexander Stewart witnessed a rollover accident involving four teen-agers. The teen-agers’ vehicle had rolled over multiple times, until it had stopped in the canal upside down, where the water was moving at a rate of 25 cubic feet per second. They were able to get the three passengers out of the car and to the side of the road where they awaited first responders. The driver of the vehicle, Sabrina Montejano, was trapped underwater in the vehicle.

After many attempts to lift the car out of the water with no success, two of the bystanders brought their pick-up trucks to the sides of the vehicle, where they attached tow chains and straps to the car. Andrew Miles, a University of Arizona student, and Alexander Stewart, a sergeant attached to the DM rescue squadron, were able to lift the vehicle out of the water just enough so Sabrina’s head was above the water. Aaron Romero, a nurse with extensive emergency medical training, was able to cut Sabrina out of her seatbelt and bring her to the side of the road. Realizing she had no pulse and was not breathing, Aaron immediately began CPR.

With the help of these citizen heroes, Sabrina survived and was able to return home from the hospital five days later, where she continued her recovery without any signs of permanent damage from the crash. If it were not for the lifesaving actions of these three individuals, those four teen-agers would not be with us today.

Heroes Day Honorable Mentions 2015

Jose Madrigal

On Feb. 11, 2015, Border Patrol Agent Jose Madrigal attended to a severely injured motorcyclist who was in a collision with a Honda SUV. The motorcycle rider had visible trauma to his face and severe trauma to his right leg. After assessing the victim’s condition, he knew that he would need further medical assistance.

Border Patrol Agent Madrigal realized that the victim was partially severed from the body and was bleeding profusely. He proceeded to apply a tourniquet to the injured leg to stop the bleeding. Agent Jose Madrigal reassured him and kept him engaged to make sure he stayed conscious and alert until paramedics arrived.

Thanks to Border Patrol Agent Jose Madrigal’s heroic actions, he was able to stop the heavy bleeding until the paramedics could arrive and assist him. Without these efforts the motorcylist would not be alive today.

Deputy Don Molchan

On April 23, 2015, Deputy Molchan of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call from a panicked 14-year- old girl asking for help because her father was attempting to commit suicide. On arrival, Deputy Molchan was able to comfort and calm down the young girl to better understand the situation and get her father’s location. Inside the home, he found the father suspended from an electric cord attached to a support beam of the porch, along with the girl’s mother was who was holding on to his body. The father was unresponsive, not breathing, and appeared blue. Molchan acted quickly by lifting the father upward to relieve the tension around his neck and eventually laid him down on the ground.

Using his training, Deputy Molchan began aiding the victim through chest compressions while also speaking to the father’s family to keep them calm. Eventually, the father began to gain color back to his skin and perform slow breathing. By the time the medical services arrived, the father was breathing at a normal rate and was transported to a hospital where he reached full recovery. In addition, Deputy Molchan contacted victim services to help support the family affected by the event.

Deputy Molchan demonstrated courage and quick decision-making during this difficult event. His commitment to the citizens of Pima County helped save a life and family from a traumatic experience. Therefore, he is recognized as a Tucson hero for his honorable actions on this day.

Firefighter Ryan Szach

On Feb. 16, 2015, on Highway 77 near Dripping Springs, off-duty firefighter Ryan Szach, was traveling home with his fiancée from the White Mountains when they witnessed a motorcycle crash. The rider of the motorcycle was not wearing a helmet and had sustained major trauma from the accident.

With the assistance of a first aid kit from a road crew, help from a doctor and a DPS officer who had also stopped to help, they were able to maintain an airway, control bleeding, and splint possible fractures while taking C-spine precautions. Along with stabilizing the rider, they were able to contact dispatch to launch a helicopter.

They continued to assist by helping firefighters with the patient and waiting for the helicopter to arrive. Thanks to heroes Ryan Szach and others, they were able to get this motorcyclist the help he needed while the other first responders were on their way.