Marine is struck and killed trying to help a woman stranded in a rollover car accident
A U.S. Marine who stopped to help a woman in a rollover accident was struck and killed by another driver early Monday morning, authorities said.
Enrico Antonio Rojo was driving to the airport with his family around 1:30 a.m. when he saw a woman who had crashed her black Toyota into a tractor-trailor and was trapped on the road. Her car had flipped onto its roof and was stuck on the 10 Freeway in Loma Linda, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Rojo immediately asked his fiancee to pull over, Redlands Fire Battalion Chief Jim Topoleski said.
“We have to help,” Rojo said, according to police.
The 29-year-old then ran across the freeway and asked the woman in the accident if she was OK.
As he finished the sentence, he was hit by a Hyundai sedan. The driver of the Hyundai immediately stopped and called 911. He had veered to avoid the Toyota but hit Rojo.
Officers found Rojo’s body more than 150 feet away from the rolled-over Toyota. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Toyota — Crystal Adrianna Martinez, 22 — was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, CHP Officer Brian Alvarez said.
CHP officers were already responding to reports of the rollover accident when they received additional calls about a man struck by a car, Alvarez said.
Rojo’s fiancee was shaken by the accident, Topoleski said. She didn’t want to leave his side, but eventually moved toward the shoulder while authorities investigated the scene.
“It’s really horrific and heart-wrenching,” he said. “Aside from the fact that it’s Christmastime … this guy, he survived Afghanistan, survived an IED attack, he was a Purple Heart recipient. All this guy was trying to do was the right thing.”
Topoleski added: “His sense of duty to his country was plainly evident.... My heart breaks for a kid like that.”
Once authorities had cleared and shut down the freeway, he said, they allowed Rojo’s fiancee to come back. The woman clasped Rojo’s hands and wrapped her body around his. She held him on the cold freeway for 30 minutes, then said her final goodbye.
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