FORT HOOD — Sgt. Rudy Hernandez was on vacation in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 8 when he witnessed a terrible accident: A black Nissan veered off the road and plowed into a bus stop, where three people had been waiting.
Without hesitation, the 23-year-old infantryman sprang into action.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Hernandez said.
The soldier with 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment “Brave Rifles” had recently returned from a nine-month deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He had just finished a workout at the gym and was getting ready to find something to eat when the accident occurred.
“The police said the guy who was driving was racing with another car,” he said. “He was showing off, made a hard left turn and went right into the bus stop.”
The first person Hernandez reached was a female who had been hit and thrown through the air approximately 10 feet before hitting a pole. After getting her to become responsive, he found out she was having trouble breathing so, using the first aid skills he learned as a combat life saver, he put her on her side with her legs up to help calm her down and stabilize her breathing.
Another pedestrian in the area arrived to help, so he left the woman in the new person’s care to assist the next person injured. A man waiting at the bus stop had been pinned underneath the car, so Hernandez and a few more people who had arrived to help moved the car off of the injured man. He realized the man had severe wounds on his legs, so Hernandez used a belt as a tourniquet to control the bleeding.
When Las Vegas police arrived, the Brave Rifles trooper was able to provide a full assessment of what he witnessed and the first aid procedures he had used. Unfortunately, the injured man later died at the hospital.
“The man’s sister and his mother recently reached out to me to thank me for trying,” Hernandez said. “At least I was able to give him a little more time. The lady I helped just reached out to me around three or four days ago. I guess she’d been trying to find me for about two weeks. It felt good.”
Hernandez said it was just the right thing to do.
“I can’t speak for all soldiers, but I know my own soldiers would have done the same thing.”