SAFFORD — Trapped in an overturned vehicle on the side of a highway at night, an unfortunate driver was rescued thanks to three staffers from a local prison.
At around 8:30 Tuesday night, May 21, Felicia Morris was heading to Willcox. Morris, the associate warden’s secretary at the Federal Correctional Institute-Safford, saw lights off U.S. Highway 191 just south of State Route 266. Stopping to investigate, Morris found an overturned vehicle whose male driver was trapped inside and calling for help.
Morris then called the prison’s trust fund supervisor, Claudia Ontiveros, who advised her to stay calm, call for help, keep contact with the victim and find a rock in order to break the vehicle’s windshield. Unable to break it without help, Morris reached out to FCI-Safford materials handler supervisor Guadalupe Acosta, who quickly came to the scene.
Smelling gasoline, Morris felt a heightened sense of urgency. She was unsure whether the vehicle was leaking gas but wondered if it would explode as they tried to help the driver.
Together, Acosta and Morris managed to break out the windshield, cut off the driver’s seatbelt with Acosta’s pocket knife and pull the man from the vehicle. The two then kept the victim calm until further help arrived. Shortly after the driver was extracted, the Safford Fire Department, Graham County Sheriff’s Office and Arizona Department of Public Safety arrived on scene.
The driver was transported from the scene by ambulance, and Morris was treated at the scene for a hand injury suffered trying to break his windshield. No further information on the driver’s condition was available.
“We’re tasked with lifesaving measures within the walls of the prison; that just comes with the job. For some of our staff to go out of their way to save someone’s life was an act of heroism,” said FCI-Safford Public Information Officer Aaron Grasse.
For their actions, Morris, Ontiveros and Acosta were each awarded letters of commendation from FCI-Safford Warden Christian Burch.