SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate on Thursday lauded a student from West High School for his heroic action and bravery in saving a stranger's life.
On Tuesday, Felix Ortiz was talking on the phone with a friend while driving home when out of the corner of his eye he saw a wrecked car upside down on the 600 North bridge over I-15.
"I'm like, there's no way this is happening!" the West High School student said later Tuesday. "I honestly decided to just jump into action because I saw everyone standing around."
Ortiz, 17, pulled over and rushed to the car.
"I looked through the passenger side … and I see the man unconscious in the driver's side," Ortiz said.
Ortiz unbuckled the driver's seatbelt and scrambled to get him out of the car.
"I drag out his legs first because they were stuck in there," Ortiz said. "It was kind of difficult. He was a bigger man. It was difficult to bring him out, but I was able to grab him by the belt and just drag him out of the car."
Ortiz said someone else helped him lay the man on the concrete.
"I saw that he was pretty purple," Ortiz said. "He had some foam coming out of his mouth, so I realized he wasn't breathing and I checked for a pulse and there was nothing. I decided I was going to have to begin doing chest compressions on him. I did for about 45 seconds — I was going constantly — and I was getting kind of nervous I wasn't going to be able to bring him back, and after about a minute or so he started coughing, and I felt super relieved."
Ortiz said the man stopped breathing once more, but he continued the compressions on him and then waited until first responders arrived.
"They asked who did chest compressions originally, and I told them I did, and they just said, 'Good job,'" Ortiz said. "I feel like I just did what needed to be done."
The teen said he subsequently received a message from one of the man's siblings.
"Through Facebook, they messaged me saying that I saved his life," Ortiz said. "It's like a relief off your chest knowing that you saved someone's life. It's crazy."
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said late Tuesday the man was in surgery for a heart problem and actually suffered no injuries from the crash.
According to Street, the prognosis was good pending the procedure.Comment on this story
Ortiz's actions "for sure" helped to save the man's life, Street said.
Another West High classmate also stopped to help, according to Ortiz.
Ortiz said he had taken a CPR course once and also had learned about it in school a couple of times, but was never expecting to use the training in an emergency situation.
"My parents always come home every day, you know," Ortiz said. "It's just crazy knowing that, like, I was able to help someone see their family member one more time."