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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M employees save man in burning car

Act+of+Heroism
Photo by PROVIDED
Act of Heroism

After retrieving a car crash victim from a burning vehicle, two Texas A&M Transportation Services employees are being lauded as heroes, along with a student from the University of North Texas and a College Station Police Department officer.
In the early morning of Saturday, Nov. 14, Joe Bessner, a UNT theater senior, said he was on his way to get tacos whenever he and his friend witnessed the crash on the 800 block of George Bush Drive, prompting him to dial 911.
“We saw the vehicle pop a curb first, after it kind of had spun out,” Bessner said. “And then it hit a tree and went completely vertical with its nose down before falling flat, which is what you see in pictures now.”
At that time Joel Luce, a Transportation Services night-shift enforcement supervisor, came upon the scene of the crash where Bessner and his friend were waiting for police and assessing the situation.
Luce said he saw flames underneath the car and immediately ran to the driver’s side window to speak with the victim, Jose Izquierdo.
“I spoke to the individual, I told him that we needed to get him out and that I wasn’t going to leave him,” Luce said. “The car was on fire so I went to try to open the door, the door was jammed and I broke the door handle and fell.”
At this point Greg Stuenkel, a Transportation Services facilities maintenance leader, was driving down George Bush Drive from west campus when Luce waved him down. After Stuenkel approached the vehicle to help Luce, officer Patricia Marty of the College Station Police Department arrived.
“She got out and went to the car to talk to the individual, and then she realized that it was on fire,” Stuenkel said. “She went back to her vehicle, got the fire extinguisher and came around and started putting it out.”
Marty then gave the fire extinguisher to Stuenkel, who quenched the flames while Marty tended to Izquierdo. With the immediate danger of the fire gone, they focused on getting Izquierdo out of the vehicle.
Stuenkel retrieved a sledge hammer from his truck and began breaking the back window, which Marty believed would be the easiest way to pul Izquierdo out, but at this time the fire returned and was quickly growing. Bessner, impelled by the impending danger of the fire, returned to the vehicle and proceeded to bend down the frame of the driver’s side window to make room to pull Izquierdo out.
“So I approached the vehicle one more time, and then the frame that goes around the window, apparently I bent it down completely … initially folding [the frame] down and then jumping on top of it and using all of the force that I could to get this frame down and out of the way so this young man could be hoisted out of the car,” Bessner said.
With room to retrieve Izquierdo, the four were able to successfully pull him out and away from the burning vehicle as paramedics and the College Station Fire Department arrived.
Izquierdo was taken to Houston for medical care. He suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis, a fractured femur, a shattered ankle, a shattered wrist and a gash along the side of his head. His condition has since stabilized.
Izquierdo said they expect his recovery to take three months of physical therapy, but he’s just thankful that Luce, Bessner, Stuenkel and Marty were there to help him.
“Just praise to them and praise to God,” Izquierdo said. “I’m just so grateful for the guardian angels God sent me my way because I would have definitely not been here if it weren’t for them four.”
Izquierdo said he was particularly struck by the actions of Luce.
“I was just basically begging him, ‘Please, bro, help me get out of here, help me get out of here,’” Izquierdo said. “And he kept on repeating back to me, ‘If you go we’re both going, buddy, don’t worry about it, I’m not going to leave you here.’”
Luce and Stuenkel said while the rescue was a group effort, they couldn’t say enough about the action and response of officer Marty.
“She took charge of the situation. We basically followed her and took her lead,” Luce said. “These guys do it everyday.”

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