Noemy Martinez swayed in and out of consciousness as she looked down at her nearly severed right leg.
Michael Musick, her fellow letter carrier for the United States Postal Service, described it as being held on by only a few ligaments.
The car had also badly damaged her other leg before crashing into a mail delivery truck.
As the shock took hold, Martinez saw Musick hovering over her, tightening his belt above where her right leg had been almost severed as a tourniquet to stanch the bleeding.
“I don’t remember being hit by the car,” Martinez said. “I just remember Michael holding me and telling me that it’s going to be OK.”
On Oct. 30, Musick, 34, of Anaheim received a Hero of the Year award from the National Assn. of Letter Carriers. Musick also pulled another fellow letter carrier to safety from out of the line of the car.
Paramedics rushed Martinez to the hospital, where her right leg was amputated. Her left leg suffered severe nerve damage.
“I was just in shock,” Musick said. “I couldn’t believe what was going on. It was like I was seeing something out of a movie. I wasn’t worried about myself. I saw my friend hurt and with no leg. I was just trying to take care of her.”
Musick recently spent a week in Washington, D.C., his first time in the country’s capital, for a special ceremony honoring him and several other letter carriers around the U.S. for their heroism. He met politicians like Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Paul Cook.
“I was proud to get the award, but I don’t feel like a hero or anything,” Musick said. “It’s nice to be noticed. I wasn’t expecting it.”
Martinez has been slowly recovering since the incident in February 2018. She’s been learning how to walk with a prosthetic and badly damaged leg. Musick has been there for her throughout the healing process.
“He helped me through my whole recovery,” Martinez said. “He’s always checking on me to make sure I am doing well.”
Musick, whose route is in Bellflower, has worked for the United States Postal Service for 13 years. He applied to be a letter carrier while studying film editing at Long Beach City College.
He’s learned to love the profession, particularly being outdoors and conversing with the public. Musick hopes to eventually become a member of the postal police and investigate crimes like mail theft.
“It wasn’t anything I wanted to do,” Musick said of being a mailman. “I guess it just found me.”
Musick said it was strange to be appreciated for his work. Being a mail carrier is often a thankless job.
“As carriers, we are always out here doing little things for customers, but we never get recognized,” Musick said. “Going door to door, walking eight to 10 miles a day, delivering in the rain or snow late at night — we really are public servants.”