SAN ANGELO, Texas — On Feb. 27, first responders were called to a major vehicle rollover that ejected two children. Eric Almazan, a bystander, was one of the first people on the scene to assist the family – here is his story.
Warning this article contains graphic content that may not be appropriate for some readers
In an interview with Concho Valley Homepage, Eric Almazan said he witnessed the entire incident as he had been traveling about 100 feet behind the extended cab Ford Ranger pickup that rolled over ejecting two children.
“It just happened so quick,” said Almazan, “In the dust and debris I saw two objects fly out of the back and I thought it was just a tire, you know, part off the truck or something.” Almazan quickly realized those two objects had been two young girls between the ages of 6 and 10 after hearing their mother, who had been partially ejected from the vehicle, cry out for her babies.
Almazan said despite his eight years in the Marine Corps, nothing could have prepared him for what he saw that day, especially having a 6-year-old daughter of his own.
Almazan recalls running toward the family and, after hearing the mother cry out, he looked for the children.
“I see a 6-year-old little girl, she’s laying face down in a ditch, ” said Almazan. ” I just remember praying, I remember praying because that’s all I knew what to do.”
He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, telling CVHP it felt like he stood over her forever trying to take it all in, believing at first glance the little girl had passed away.
“I hear her and I see her start to kind of move a little bit and it’s graphic, very, very graphic. There was a lot of blood and it’s coming out from her head,” said Almazan, “It felt like forever, it was probably seconds.”
It was at this time Almazan began praying out loud over the little girl and then he heard someone off in the distance say, ‘I’m an off-duty paramedic.’
“Me and that paramedic, he grabbed her head and her shoulders and I braced her hips and her legs and kind of shifted her up and when we rolled her over we actually saw, it was graphic, and I went into shock at this time,’ said Almazan. “I had seen enough and seeing the face of this little girl, it was terrible.”
After assisting the paramedic with the first little girl, Almazan said he stood up and saw the second little girl behind what was left of the truck.
“My heart dropped, not one little girl but two little girls. There really is no words to explain,” said Almazan.
He said he was replaying the scene over and over in his head with little to almost no sleep since the incident.
“What could I have done differently? I felt like I froze for so long, standing over her, and seeing the images, hearing her cry from the pain,” said Almazan.
Almazan recalls seeing the mother attempt to crawl to her children and seeing the look in her eyes and the father’s desperate face pleading for help without uttering a word.
“Honestly, I think I felt like I was put at that place at the right time because I’ve made several phone calls to Marines that I served with, ” said Almazan, ” They don’t think anybody could handle seeing that, and still be able to act upon it and try to help out.”
Along with Almazan, several off-duty paramedics, nurses, oil field workers and various other motorists stopped to help the family. Almazan and a group of nurses were helping the 6-year-old girl and her father, another group was assisting the older little girl and Almazan’s cousin and brother-in-law were helping the mother.
After the incident, the family reached out to Almazan and told him they were all back together again, alive, and rehabilitating together at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
“I’m glad that they are alive and going to make it because that makes me feel a lot better about it, it really does,” Almazan said. “Hopefully I can sleep tonight.”
(Concho Valley Homepage contributed to this report)