BRAWLEY, Calif. -
Local good Samaritan struggles with memories of trying to save accident victim.
The evening 27-year-old Qriztofer Cardenas died is forever etched in the mind of Brawley resident Oscar Lopez. Lopez was driving on Evan Hewes Highway, one mile east of State Route 111, on his way to Holtville to pick up his son on Wednesday. He saw a car on the median with the left side completely smashed away, and an overturned tractor on the other side of the road with Cardenas pinned underneath.
“We were all on our knees digging frantically thru the dirt, to try to lessen the pressure that was between him and the tractor. He was pinned between the rim and the tire,” Lopez said.
He and four other men fought against time to save the trapped man.
“We had another one that was rushing through his vehicle to see if there was any tools that maybe he could break out to try and help us get to him,” Lopez said.
Somebody found a chain in his car and they hooked it around the tractor’s frame. They pulled slowly on it.
“It lifted the wheel about six to eight inches, just enough to relieve the pressure and we were able to slide him out. The frantic level just got kicked up about thirty notches,” Lopez said.
That’s when Lopez knew they had lost the battle.
“The way that he was pinned - he had his elbow on the dirt and his hand was up, like so. And then I saw him make a fist and then he relaxed it. That was it,” Lopez remembers, choking back the emotions within him.
CHP got there soon after that and pronounced Cardenas dead at the scene.
Lopez commends the heroic efforts of the other four good Samaritans, risking their lives by going under the tractor themselves. He calls them heroes.
“Four people that were frantically struggling to try to get a better outcome for a perfect stranger,” He said.
But he doesn’t feel like one.
“You think about it afterwards. You think about the 30,000 different ways you could’ve done something different and hope for better outcomes,” Lopez laments.
Lopez begs the public to be careful on the roads, to get home safely to their loved ones.
The accident is under investigation. The 87-year-old woman driving the other car has not been arrested.