SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — An off-duty deputy and friend who were out just enjoying an afternoon boating in the Delta were in the right place at the right time and saved three peoples’ lives.
“When I initially saw it, it was like slow motion. Like this is not happening right now,” Deputy Kevin McCarthy, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, said.
Back on July 26, California Highway Patrol’s Stockton division says Deputy McCarthy, his friend Jason Buffalow and Buffalow’s son were out along the Delta somewhere in San Joaquin County when they heard a shriek from Buffalow’s son. They turned toward the bank and saw that a side-by-side ATV had somehow driven over an embankment and flipped over into the water. Three people were riding on the ATV, a male, a female, and a 10-year-old girl.
“Yeah, we were scared. At that moment, I remember I blacked out,” Susana Salcedo, the woman involved in the ATV accident, said. “I wasn’t thinking I was going to die. But, then I got into the water, I was drowning. I couldn’t breathe no more.”
McCarthy and Buffalow turned their boat to the crash scene. Once near, both jumped into the water and went to work.
“Before it’s even in neutral, I take my glasses off, my stuff off and I got in the water,” Buffalow said.
The male rider suffered severe injuries to his arm and leg. McCarthy surmised the injuries were life-threatening, so he quickly put together a makeshift tourniquet out of life vests and PVC pipe.
“I just went back to my…what I was taught. It’s, you know, check for pulse, find out, stop the bleeding and save a life,” McCarthy said. “And, I was in the right place at the right time. I’m glad I was there.”
The two other riders were face down in the water, still strapped into the ATV. Jason Buffalow was able to unlatch the seatbelts and pull them to safety.
As they learned later, officials say the tourniquets saved the rider’s life.
“I’m just glad he’s okay. I’m glad she’s okay. I’m glad her little sister is okay. There’s nothing more than, you know, knowing that someone is here because of maybe your actions,” McCarthy said.
It’s unclear what led to the ATV crashing. The deputy and his friend told CBS13 they don’t feel like heroes; continuing to state that they were in the right place at the right time.
“Thanks to them we’re all alive, the three of us,” Salcedo said.