FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two major awards were handed out at the CHP Central Division Special Services Program Office. A CHP sergeant who literally jumped into action last year to save a Fresno man's life was among those honored.
On May 28, 2015 Sergeant Hector Madrigal was escorting truck driver Larry Hickingbottom as he hauled a wide load of stainless steel panels. Larry suddenly had a heart attack while driving along East avenue near Jensen avenue. At the awards ceremony the 60-year old Hickingbottom said, "I'm too damn old to be declaring that somebody's my hero but here's two of my heroes right here."
Hickingbotttom got emotional when describing what happened. "He thought I had dropped a cigarette and had leaned over to pick it up. He said my arms went up and then I leaned over."
Sgt. Madrigal recalled, "Instead of making a right turn he went straight into a dirt field, climbed a curb, started driving into a dirt field."
Madrigal didn't even think about his next move. He said, "The only alternative was to drive past it and then run up to the cab open the door and pull the emergency brake."
Officer Dave Russell helped Sgt. Madrigal get Larry out of the cab and perform CPR. Hickingbottom was in a coma for a week but awoke to thank those who saved him. Larry said he was, "More lucky than you can imagine. I'm just your typical truck driver who cusses every time he sees a cop in the mirror and I love these guys."
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow was also on hand to honor the division's Safety and Farm Labor Vehicle Education unit. It was formed after a 1999 van crash near Five Points left 13 farmworkers dead. Farrow said, "The vehicles are inspected. They're safe. We safely move workers from a place of residence to the fields and back."
The SAFE unit has greatly reduced the number of farmworker deaths on the road.
Larry Hickingbottom is now a retired trucker and thankful his CHP guardian angels were watching over him that day.