The Meeting Place Attendees Rescue Injured Man
Reprinted from the Ventura County Star, July 23, 2009:
As an ex-convict and recovering drug addict, Jimmy Barassi never considered himself a hero, and definitely not an angel. But that’s what 78-year-old Marcia Hendrick called him Wednesday for helping lift a car off her son Frank Raywood Hendrick, 54.
Marcia Hendrick flew in Tuesday night from her Richmond, Va., home to be with her injured son, who goes by Ray, and to meet and thank the five men who lifted the car pinning her son and his motorcycle after an accident July 14.
“I want a hug from you,” Hendrick said to Barassi and one of the other rescuers, Aaron George, 40, when she met them Wednesday.
Hendrick, dressed in a yellow jacket with a matching yellow purse, embraced Barassi, who wore a backward baseball cap, his pepper-colored hair pulled into a ponytail down his back. She then hugged George.
After “falling apart” when hearing about the accident, her next thought was to meet and thank the men she believes saved his life. Widowed in 1984, Hendrick lost a son to cancer a year ago.
Hendrick, another son and her granddaughter met Barassi and George on Wednesday afternoon at the Gold Coast Recovery Center for drug addicts and alcoholics in Ventura. Barassi was playing pool at the center with one of the other rescuers, Mark Sullivan, 43, when squealing tires and the sound of crunching metal made them run to the window to see a car roll over a motorcyclist.
George was walking along the sidewalk on the way to the center at the same time.
George’s account echoes the Ventura Police Department report, which said around 5 p.m. July 14, Ray Hendrick was going east on Thompson Boulevard on his motorcycle when he stopped to turn left onto Santa Cruz.
A car driven by Jesus Garcia, 34, of Ventura stopped, but the car behind him failed to stop, ramming into Garcia’s car. That car was driven by David Miller, 48 of Ventura.
Miller’s car forced Garcia’s car to lurch forward, hitting Ray Hendrick, causing him to tumble over the car’s hood. He then fell onto the street where the car ran over him and his motorcycle.
George said Ray Hendrick’s helmet got caught in the undercarriage and he was dragged along under the car.
Barassi, Sullivan and a third person from the center ran into the street with George running next to them.
“I said, ‘Get the car off him! Get the car off him!’ ” Barassi said.
One more man ran into the street to help and, together, the five men heaved the Ford Tempo off Ray Hendrick.
“It was all adrenaline,” George said.
Barassi told the bystanders not to remove Ray’s helmet because it might cause more swelling. He knew what to do because of the emergency response training he got during his 5 1/2 years in prison on drug-related charges.
“I learned how to stay calm. I was just trying to comfort him until emergency response was there,” he said.
George went to check on Garcia, who was in the car, pale and beginning to tear up, George said.
“He (Garcia) asked me, ‘Is it as bad as I think it is?’ And I said, ‘Yeah,’” George said.
A preliminary police investigation indicated Miller was driving too fast for the road conditions, police said. The investigation is ongoing, and Miller was not cited or arrested.
Hendrick still in hospital
Ray Hendrick, who has internal injuries, remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Ventura County Medical Center. His daughter, Melissa Figueroa, 25, of Camarillo, is by his side. He is heavily sedated, she said.
Ray’s brother, David Hendrick, 43, flew from Richmond last week to be with him.
His eyes reddened with tears as he thanked George and Barassi. He also said he hopes people will donate to the struggling Gold Coast Center to help people like George and Barassi start over again.
“I can never tell you how grateful I am that you saved my brother’s life,” David Hendrick said. “Just remember that saving your own lives is equally important.”
See the original article here: http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2009/jul/23/no-headline—nxxfccrash22/