Witness and off-duty trooper work together to save Ogden woman's life

Published: Wednesday, June 27 2012 10:40 p.m. MDT

Heidi Orosco's vehicle crashes off of I-15 near Brigham City Monday, June 25, 2012. The vehicle rolled into a drainage ditch but passers-by helped rescue her and saved her life.

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OGDEN — An Ogden woman is lucky to be alive, and it's all thanks to a man who was just passing by and an off-duty state trooper.

Both worked together to save her after her vehicle rolled into a drainage ditch.

Monday morning, Heidi Orosco rolled her vehicle on northbound I-15 just south of Brigham City. 

“I saw the White Dodge lose control (and) start to spin,” Jason Navarro said. “I saw her roll over in the ditch.”

A handful of drivers pulled over. "I was on the phone with 911, looking for anyone to help," said Bob Nicholson.

Navarro ran down to the vehicle and found Orosco upside down in the vehicle. “As I peeked my head in and started talking to her, she told me she was badly hurt,” he said.

Water started to fill around them and started rising about to her head level. He tried to keep her calm, but he realized he had to act quickly if she was going to make it out of the vehicle.

“I didn’t want to move her,” he said. “I knew she was in real bad shape, but she started gurgling on me, and you could tell that she was starting to drown.”

That’s when he ran to his vehicle to get a knife that his wife had just given him for Father’s Day. As he was about to run back down to the vehicle, he spotted a Utah Highway Patrol car coming toward him. He flagged down off-duty trooper Alex Williams.

Williams immediately jumped out of his vehicle. Navarro handed him his knife, and they both ran back to the vehicle. When they got back to Orosco, she was chest deep in water and her head was completely submerged.

Williams cut Orosco free, but she was still wedged inside the car, one leg trapped under the steering wheel.

“I was able to get her head out of the water,” Williams recalled, “and I was able to turn her. She had been deprived of oxygen for a considerable amount of time.”

“She started breathing for us. You could hear a gurgly hollow sound, really scary,” Navarro said.

Once she started breathing, Williams said it was at that point that he realized that maybe the situation would have a happy ending.

When emergency responders arrived on scene, Orosco was able to talk to them. She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, then flown by medical helicopter to Ogden Regional Medical Center. She suffered severe spinal injuries, but she was alive thanks to two men who had never met and managed to work together in a tense situation.

UHP reports the accident was caused when Orosco drifted off the left side of the roadway into the median and then overcorrected several times. She then slid off the right side of the roadway and down an embankment rolling over 1 ½ times become coming to rest upside down in the ditch.

“It’s amazing that she lived,” Navarro said.

Navarro said he was impressed with the quick actions of Williams. “There was no hesitation with him,” he said. “He was in the car, cut her loose (and) pulled her free. I don’t know what I could have done without him. He knew what to do. He’s an amazing guy.”

Williams said in these types of situations, you don’t have time to think much, you just respond.

“(When) an incident like this comes along and you’re able to make a difference in someone’s life, and not just an individual’s life, but a family, it rejuvenates you and it makes you understand this is what is really important, this is why you’re here.”

E-mail: vvo-duc@ksl.com

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