. - All four teenagers involved in a rollover accident on the northwest side are going to survive thanks to the work of some strangers who stepped in to help.
The crash happened Friday afternoon on the Interstate 10 Frontage Road between Cortaro and Twin peaks.
Aaron Romero, a registered nurse, pulled his car off I-10 when he noticed cars and people collecting around the crash. He turned to his wife, who told him he should go if he was needed.
He heard someone scream for help from the overturned car. It landed in a canal and the water was rising.
“I could hear less and less of the scream so I knew we had to act quickly,” he said.
Romero pulled out a passenger with the help of another good Samaritan and passed her off to a nearby airman from Davis Monthan. She let the strangers know their work was not finished.
“She started screaming to me that her best friend was still in the vehicle” said Romero.
But he could not reach her because of the water and the overturned car. The first attempt to lift it was unsuccessful. The second attempt with a truck and some rope didn’t work either.
Finally, two trucks hooked up and lifted the car enough for Romero to reach in and grab the driver. But her seatbelt kept the driver secured in her spot. Romero called for help.
“Thank goodness someone had a knife,” he said. “I was able to cut her out while the water was pouring all over me.”
Other bystanders stepped in to help with the final teenager. She didn’t have a pulse.
Romero started CPR, screaming at her to pull through and to keep fighting. Just before firefighters arrived on scene, he checked her pulse and he could feel it this time.
“Never has that felt any better,” Romero said. “No matter how long I’ve been doing this. That was just unreal for me.”
As emergency crews rushed her to the hospital, Romero’s adrenaline finally dropped and he looked up to see his family still in the car. There were some tears, but mostly cheers of support. Romero said the rescue could not have happened
without everyone involved. He considers it a blessing the way it worked out.
Romero earns his living in the Intensive Care Unit, but what really shook him about Friday’s rescue was what happened after the scene had cleared. A phone call from the driver’s mother, who put her daughter on the phone to say “thank you”.
“Hearing her voice, I’m getting goose bumps just recalling this event,” said Romero the next day. “I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear her voice.”
Their connection continues, because Romero learned that the driver was out shopping for prom dresses when the accident happened. She lost all the money she had saved and Romero knew what he wanted to do next.
“I looked at my wife and she understood,” he said.
When the driver is released from the hospital and ready to go shopping again, Romero will be with her and picking up the tab.
And he had his own pleasant surprise after the accident. Romero lost his wedding ring in the canal during the rescue. When firefighters at Northwest Fire District heard that, they combed the canal and found it hours later.