Kennedy High School senior Stanley Vi told himself, “No one dies” today, and then pulled a dazed motorist out of an overturned vehicle Monday while hissing sounds came from the engine compartment, he recalled.
The 17-year-old track athlete recounted Tuesday what happened the afternoon before when he and a classmate were walking to the Taco Bell on Florin Road near Riverside Boulevard. He heard a loud bang, turned around, and saw a vehicle on its side at the edge of the roadway facing oncoming traffic.
In less than a heartbeat, he said he raced across the parking lot to the vehicle and shed his backpack. He saw the shattered windshield of the SUV. The motorist was in the driver’s compartment, bent over. The driver’s side of the car was resting on the ground. Nearby were several cars damaged in the crash.
Stanley said the hissing from the engine compartment was reminiscent of so many movies in which the vehicles explode before occupants escape.
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“Someone has got to live today. No one dies,” Stanley recalled telling himself.
With that, he hopped on an adjacent pickup truck, climbed on top of the SUV and opened the passenger door skyward.
“I could see him all the way down” in the vehicle, Stanley recalled Tuesday. “He was hunched down. You could see that blood was coming from his head a little bit.”
He climbed in and grabbed the driver by his shirt and pulled. Then, from beneath, he pushed the man through the passenger side opening. Video taken by Stanley’s classmate, Dae’Ondra Mishler, 17, shows a bystander holding the passenger door aloft as the man is pushed toward safety.
James Bowles, a Kennedy track and field coach who was at the shopping center near the accident, said he turned at the sound of the crash to see the SUV airborne.
“Stanley darts straight for it,” Bowles recalled Tuesday. “He’s the first one there.” Bowles said he caught up to Stanley and urged him to check the driver for injuries before hauling him out. After the rescue, “we looked to make sure no one else is inside,” Bowles said.
Bowles described Stanley as a good athlete and a kind person. Stanley plays football and is a hurdler and jumper on the school’s track team.
“He was quick to respond,” Bowles said. “He was faster than a lot of adults. And he believed the truck was about to explode. He was brave.”
Before leaving, Stanley said he prayed with the dazed driver and “thanked God” he was alive.
Sacramento police Officer Matthew McPhail, department spokesman, said the motorist appeared to have had a medical emergency, may have briefly lost consciousness and lost control of his vehicle before hitting cars. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, McPhail said.
Kennedy head track and field coach John Gallen described Stanley as a “good kid,” serious-minded, and a strong athlete.
“He’s calm, cool and collected,” Gallen said. “He saw what he needed to do and just did his duty. We’re proud of him.”
Stanley said he took the experience in stride and went back to school and “carried on with my day. It was just another deed God wanted me to do.”
He said he hopes to attend Sacramento City College in the fall. He loves to dance (hip-hop) and said he hopes one day to work in pediatric health care, be a professional dancer and actor, work as a police officer – or maybe some combination thereof.
On Tuesday, back at the Florin Road crash site, he walked through the drama of the rescue. The cars were gone. But black tread marks still marked the site where the SUV overturned. Broken glass still glittered in the sunlight.