Jesus Coronado, who oversees health care access for inmates, is going to be recommended for a medal of valor for his heroic deed Wednesday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Administrative Lt. Jorge Santana. The award ceremony would be in May in Sacramento, Santana said.
A press release of the incident that was reported at 4:59 p.m. had not been issued by the California Highway Patrol since no injuries were reported, said Highway Patrol Officer Pablo Torrez. Noninjury crashes are not covered in press releases by the Highway Patrol, Torres said.
But Santana said there were reportedly a number of witnesses who saw Coronado, a 12-year employee at the state prison, jump into water to pull out three children and their mother from a compact car in the canal. The crash occurred south of Wheeler Road.
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Coronado said he was traveling south on Austin Road when he saw a cloud of dust in front of him around the bend. He pulled over to see what the commotion was and recalled hearing a loud cry coming from the canal, Coronado said. The cry came from one of the girls trapped inside the car, he said.
“Oh, she was screaming at the top of her lungs, yes,” Coronado said.
An elderly couple had pulled over and Coronado handed them his state-issued cellular phone for them to call 911 before he saved the family, he said. All the occupants were safely pulled out through a rear passenger side window of the car. The front portion of the car was partially covered by water, Coronado said.
Coronado didn’t think twice about the rescue.
“There was no way I wasn’t going to jump in,” he said.