At 9:28 p.m. on Sunday, May 10, San Manuel Department of Public Safety Officer Joseph Morris unexpectedly assisted an unconscious passenger out of a totaled, burning vehicle.
Morris was traveling southbound on Tippecanoe Avenue when he observed what appeared to be a burning vehicle in the middle of the northbound lane, just north of Harry Sheppard Boulevard, when the San Manuel security officer decided to provide aid.
“The actions of PSO Morris demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the protection and safety of others,” said San Manuel Chief Physical Security Officer Steven Gomez. “This is a priority that all the 400-plus members of our department share with the tribe that we serve.”
Morris turned on his amber hazard lights as he exited his vehicle and was met with calls for assistance from bystanders. He approached the damaged vehicle and found an unresponsive male lying across the passenger and driver seat. Morris had to pop the airbag in an attempt to get inside the vehicle. He was unable to get to the injured passenger, however, and entered the vehicle through the backseat, released the passenger’s seat belt and extracted him from the vehicle. With the assistance of a Stater Bros. corporate security officer, Morris was able to carry the passenger a safe distance from the burning vehicle, where he awaited medical assistance.
While providing support to the passenger, Morris noticed the driver of the vehicle was not inside or anywhere in his sight. He turned on his flashlight, searched the area and found another male victim lying unconscious and unresponsive, about 20 feet away on the center median that was full of debris. Morris cleared the debris surrounding the driver before San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, San Bernardino Police Department, San Bernardino County Fire and AMR arrived on scene five minutes later.
“The heroic effort and actions of Mr. Morris is admirable. The vital information he and others on scene relayed to dispatch provided first responders critical information,” stated San Bernardino County Fire Capt. Mike Arvizo. “Thank you for your valiant efforts.”
Both subjects, Felipe Villalobos Barba, 36, and Oscar Villalobos, 26 were unresponsive when first responders arrived to the scene and later succumbed to their injuries.
According to a sheriff’s department press release, speed and alcohol were believed to be contributing factors to the single-vehicle crash.