COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - Two Collier County men became guardian angels this week when they pulled a woman from a flipped car.
The waste management drivers say special training and human instinct helped them with the rescue.
Evidence of a rollover crash still remains just off Logan Boulevard in Golden Gate. Wednesday a woman driving an SUV tried to pass another car when she clipped the front end, rolled and crashed into this fence.
"If we can help we're going to do it," says Ricky Destefanis. "There was no fire, so lets get the person out."
Ricky Destefanis and Armando Chavaria were just finishing up their weekly garbage route when the crash unfolded right in front of them.
"My first instinct was to help," says Chavaria.
Destefanis says, "I'm on the phone with 911, meanwhile he tried to open the driver door, I tried to open the passenger door, they were both crushed." Chavaria went to the back door and pulled the woman from the vehicle.
The men say that instinct to help kicked in as soon as they saw that SUV lying upside down. That's because they've been trained specifically on what to look for and how to handle emergency situations.
"The Waste Watch program was done for one purpose, to help the community and build a type of bond with the community," says Juan Marante, route manager. "I'm very proud of my crew, very proud. I call them my A-Team."
Destefanis and Chavaria have both completed Waste Watch certification - a joint community safety program in partnership with local law enforcement and emergency officials. Through this program, Waste Management drivers act as an extra set of eyes and ears for police, fire department and emergency services, and report any suspicious activity that may take place during their routes. Waste Management employees have undergone proper training on what to look for and how to respond in the case of an emergency.
"Fortunately this accident was not more serious. The actions of these two brave men demonstrate the importance of having community partnerships like Waste Watch, where our neighbors are safer because people take the time to do the right thing and help," said Sheriff Kevin J. Rambosk.
"Both Destefanis and Chavaria followed their Waste Watch training and responded appropriately," said Larry Berg, Waste Management Senior District Manager. "We are proud of all our drivers that stay alert and calm in an emergency situation. And, we are pleased that the drivers were not seriously injured."
Sasha Miller, the woman trapped inside the SUV, tells WINK News, "I'm very thankful the men had the caring sense to stop and ask me if I was okay. I'm blessed to be alive and I really appreciate it."