The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is praising a deputy and random bystanders for their quick response that likely saved a woman’s life when her all-terrain vehicle flipped in a remote part of the forest and nearly amputated her arm.
Deputy Andrew Luna, a veteran who has worked as a sheriff's deputy for three years, has responded to multiple fatal accidents and crime scenes through his job in Coconino County, but has never seen an accident occur before his eyes. Over the Labor Day Weekend, Luna was dispatched to the forests in the more rural part of the county to help monitor the increased weekend crowds.
Through the deputy's body camera footage, the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can be seen speeding in the background and flipped on 122 Charles Road near Clints Well miles south of Flagstaff. The vehicle had landed on top of the driver, nearly amputating her arm.
He told the Arizona Daily Sun Friday that after he applied a tourniquet to the 19-year-old woman's arm that she stayed calm despite having her arm nearly amputated just moments before.
"She's one of the toughest people I’ve ever met," Luna said. "She never lost consciousness. She lost a lot of blood, but she was able to talk and answered questions while remaining calm."
Luna said it took nearly 30 minutes for medics to arrive because the accident occurred in such a rural part of the county, and the road was rough. When he and the medics considered how to lift her into into an ambulance, Luna felt she showed her true spirit.
"She literally looked at the ambulance paramedics, and said, 'My arms hurt, but not my legs. I can walk.'" Luna said, recalling the scene. "And so she walked — with some assistance — to the ambulance. She was just a tough, tough individual. It was tremendous to watch."
The county had a separate fatal accident occur in the forests that. The Sheriff's Office believes the bystanders' actions, in tandem with their deputy's training, likely saved the woman's life.
The incident began when Luna was speaking with the bystanders that afternoon for a separate investigation. As he spoke with the bystanders, his body camera was recording as he heard the ATV approach.
He said time stopped when he saw a puff of dirt, and someone shout "officer!"
In the deputy’s body camera video, bystanders can be seen running to the flipped ATV. As Luna is running toward the scene, he immediately calls for an ambulance.
A crowd of bystanders used their combined strength to flip the red-framed ATV right-side up to free the then-unknown victim from the vehicle. The driver was bleeding profusely from her left arm -- which suffered a near complete amputation above the elbow.
As Luna walked up to the woman, he said he reverted back to his training and decided to provide immediate medical care to stabilize her because an ambulance would be miles out. He retrieved a tourniquet, a standard tool for all deputies, to stop the bleeding.
Meanwhile, one man held the woman in his arms to stabilize her. Another man quickly told the officer he was keeping kids away from seeing the gruesome incident. Another two were using their shirts to clean up the blood.
The actions of the bystanders allowed Luna to put all his attention into applying the tourniquet to stop the bleed.
“Do you think I’m gonna to die?” the woman asked.
No, the crowd of bystanders and the officer told her. The group cared for her for nearly 30 minutes before an ambulance was able to make it to the scene.
"The family that was out there, they were just around. They don’t know her. They saw something traumatic, came over and did something," Luna said. "They moved an entire canopy to keep her in shade. They brought her ice water.
"The event itself was just a fantastic snapshot of what happens when law enforcement and community work together," Luna added. "Luckily we were able to save that young girl's life that day."
The victim was transported to an awaiting Native Air helicopter and flown to HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center for treatment.
Luna said he plans to speak with the woman's family soon, after they called the Sheriff's Office asking for him.
The woman's arm was unable to be reattached, but doctors were able to save her nerve endings, meaning she will likely be able to live her life with a full prosthetic and working fingers.
Jon Paxton, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said the office extends its gratitude to the many bystanders who helped the victim. Paxton said in times of trauma, it's common to see witnesses, bystanders, campers and citizens step up to help.
"It doesn't happen that often, but it's not unusual to have citizens step forward and help out law enforcement in Flagstaff or Coconino County," Paxton said.
Paxton said all deputies are put through a "Stop the Bleed" course to teach them how to apply emergency medical aid to stop bleeding in situations like these.
"This is a perfect example of what they can do with the training we give them," Paxton said.
Luna said he has told people in the community to bring tourniquets with them outdoors before, but said he now has a personal story to prove why they work.
"This was one less fatal accident we had to respond to that weekend," Luna said. "I would recommend for people to be safe, attend stop the bleed courses, learn how to use a tourniquet, and carry it on them so they can enjoy Coconino County for years to come."
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