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Officers Risk Life and Limb to Rescue Woman from a Burning Vehicle

Friday’s Heroes: Sergeant Mark Velarde, Officer Salvador Hurtado, & Officer John Cervantes

June 6, 2014

Albuquerque- Today Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry honored three police officers whose courageous actions saved a young woman’s life. Sergeant Mark Velarde, Officer Salvador Hurtado, and Officer John Cervantes from Albuquerque’s Police Department are this week’s Friday’s Heroes.

This past January, Officer Salvador Hurtado spotted a vehicle driving erratically, completely disregarding traffic rules. When Officer Hurtado attempted to pull the driver over to question her about her dangerous driving, the vehicle quickly sped away before he could exit his car.  Even as the Officer Hurtado lost sight with the fleeing vehicle, he continued in pursuit of the driver by following the cloud of dirt left behind by the vehicle. As Officer Hurtado was following the trail, he relayed the situation that was unfolding and tracked the vehicle to Grant Middle School, where he found it crashed into a light pole. Officer Hurtado found the driver unconscious and slumped onto the passenger’s side of the vehicle with smoke beginning to rise from the hood of the car. At that moment, Sergeant Velarde and Officer Cervantes arrived on scene to assist Officer Hurtado.  Flames began to engulf the car as Sergeant Velarde began combating the fire with an extinguisher, while Officers Hurtado and Cervantes attempted to free the unconscious woman from the vehicle. The officers quickly discovered that the doors were locked and could not be opened. Officer Cervantes broke the window of the car and worked with Sergeant Velarde and Officer Hurtado to release the woman from the car that was consumed by flames.

The officers assessed the woman’s condition as Sergeant Velarde continued to battle the fire. They found that she was still breathing but her jacket had melted, causing severe burns to her upper body. As a result of rescuing the woman from the fire, Officer Cervantes suffered second degree burns on his wrist. AFD and medical personnel then arrived on scene and transported the woman to UNM Hospital. It was determined at the hospital that the woman was in critical, but stable condition.

These APD officers’ selfless acts of valor, in a quickly escalating situation, saved a woman’s life. From Officer Hurtado’s persistence in tracking down the woman, to Officer Cervantes’ and Sergeant Velarde’s quick response, these officers exhibited truly heroic actions and ensured the safety and well being of the public they serve.