SAN DIEGO — California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Pacheco may owe his life to a handful of drivers who stopped and stepped in when officials say he got attacked on the freeway in San Diego last week.
Floriberto Pineda, a member of the Local 619 carpenters’ union, was driving on Interstate 8 in the Mission Valley area when he and his wife saw the officer wounded and fighting for survival.
“Just to see the officer on the floor, I knew there was something wrong,” Lilia Pineda told FOX 5.
She and her husband quickly pulled over and dashed over to help. Floriberto and another man grabbed the suspect, later identified as Yuhao Du, pulling him off of Pacheco and trying to keep him from escaping.
“Both of us pushed him to the K-rail and I concentrated on holding him and the other guy went to the police officer because he was bleeding a lot,” Floriberto recalled.
Officials say Pacheco initially approached Du because he was involved in a minor crash on the freeway. As the officer walked up to the driver, Du is accused of suddenly lunging at him in an “unprovoked attack,” trying to take Pacheco’s gun.
During the struggle, Pacheco’s weapon fired once, hitting him in the leg. Officials have not yet determined who or what pulled the trigger, but Du faces several charges including attempted murder of a peace officer, taking a firearm from a peace officer and causing great bodily injury.
The officer was treated at the hospital but has since been released. Officials say that, without the help of bystanders like Floriberto, it could have gone very differently.
“He didn’t think twice to help and that’s how he is. I’m so proud of him because thats the type of person he is,” Lilia said.
“We are happy because we could make the difference,” Floriberto added.