SAN DIEGO — The California Highway Patrol honored six people from San Diego County for jumping into action when a CHP officer was shot on a local freeway in April.
On Thursday, the six people stood in front of dozens of CHP officers at the Sonrise Church in Santee to receive a top level award from the CHP commissioner.
“We have innocent bystanders, civilians of this county stop and render aid to a member of our department or any law enforcement, in risk of your own safety is a testament of what the community thinks of law enforcement,” CHP Chief Scott Parker said.
Investigators say officer Tony Pacheco on April 27 stopped to talk with 25-year-old Yuhao Du who had been involved in a single car crash on Interstate 8. For an unknown reason, Du is suspected of attacking the officer and lunging for his gun. The two fought and a round went off, striking the officer in his right thigh. Minutes later, the CHP said that’s when six brave people pulled over on the highway to help, in various roles.
Business owner Loay Yousif was coming from Sea World when he saw the two fighting.
“Pulled over immediately, just run to the officer, dropped the gun on the floor, struggled with the officer for a good thirty seconds,” he said.
Yousif says that’s when everyone else started showing up. Some people helped to detain the suspect.
Yousif comforted Pacheco, who asked him to call his wife for him.
“I can hear here on the speaker. He told her she got shot, she start screaming. The call was probably a good ten seconds and he had to hang up on her. Because he was literally in a horrible pain,” Yousif explained.
Yousif said he is familiar with police codes. He used Pacheco’s radio to say the code for officer down, to call for help.
Hunter Nemeth, a registered nurse, was on his way to work when he saw the chaotic scene. He rushed to help Pacheco, using his trauma shears from his backpack to cut the backpacks straps and make a tourniquet for Pacheco’s leg.
“I had help, everyone was doing everything, kind of talked to him, removed his belt for another tourniquet. And just rest assured he was going to be alright,” Nemeth described.
The team of six receiving the CHP Commissioner’s Superior Effort Act Award, a top-level award. Although, not all of them see themselves as heroes.
“No it’s awkward. It’s awkward and I’m terrible at taking praise,” Nemeth said.
“It’s an honor, it’s not everyday this happens. I’m blessed and I’m honored,” Yousif added.
The CHP said that Pachecho is recovering and doing well.
Du has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in multiple charges, including attempted murder of a peace officer. Along with attempted murder, Du is charger with felony counts of assault on a peace officer with a semi-automatic firearm and removing and taking a firearm from an officer.