Community support continues for 2 officers; student honored for helping 1

HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - Blood drives continue, Tuesday, as a Miami community lends a hand to two hospitalized police officers injured in crashes. Meanwhile, one young student is being honored for directly helping one of the officers at the scene of his crash.

A line of people were seen waiting outside Miami Police Headquarters to donate blood to the officers who were injured. It started with one Oneblood bus but has since expanded to three, which will be there until 9 p.m., Tuesday.

At Miami-Dade Police Department Headquarters, located at 9105 N.W. 25th St. in Doral, the blood drive has been extended until 8 p.m.

“It’s a very dangerous job, and I think that the community appreciates what we do,” said Miami Police Maj. Manuel Morales, “so it’s our turn to show them that we appreciate the sacrifice the officers made.”

P.K. Klein, who attended the blood drive, said she was willing to do anything to help. “Anything that you can do to help them out, to do their jobs better, I think is really important,” said Klein.

Several officers took time out of their day to donate blood, including Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes, Tuesday. “This is a little bit more than prayer, so it’s important for all of us to come out and give blood.”

The event was overwhelming for everyone who attended. “It’s the only way that I can right now give back to both of our brothers who are in need,” said Miami Police Officer Lesley Diaz.

“I wanna tell them to hang on, that we’re right behind you,” said Morales. “We’re with you, and we wish you a speedy recovery.”

Two separate crashes took place less than 24 hours apart, Sunday and Monday, that put Miami-Dade Police Maj. Ricky Carter and Miami Police Officer Carlos Gomez in the hospital.

Gomez sustained leg and head injuries in a crash, Monday, near Northwest Second Avenue and 29th Street, in Miami. Police said he was responding in emergency mode to a priority call when he collided with a black Mazda, sending the cruiser barreling into a building.

Paramedics transported Gomez to the hospital in critical condition.

“He’s second generation police officer,” Llanes said of Gomez. “His father is a Miami-Dade police officer. He’s dedicated to his job.”

Carter lost his leg when he crashed his personal motorcycle on Interstate 75, Sunday, while off-duty. He was on his way to a charity event at the time.

“He’s such a good person. He does so much for the community that when I saw they were doing a blood drive today, I said it’s the least I can do,” said Melissa Adames, a friend of Carter.

“I know Major Carter because he’s a fine member of our community,” said Miami Police officer Kenia Fallat on Tuesday. “But he was always there. He’s always been there for the community.”

However, Carter’s life might have been saved thanks to 17-year-old Thalia Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said she was on her way to the Hialeah Fire Station for a ride-along, Sunday, when she came across the incident involving Carter. She ran towards him and said her first responder training at Westland Hialeah Senior High School came into play.

“He had a low level of responsiveness,” said Rodriguez. “He wasn’t talking back to me, but his eyes were open, and he was looking at me, obviously in shock.”

Another good Samaritan who turned out to be a nurse also stopped to help Carter. “I told her, ‘Do you have a tourniquet,'” said Rodriguez. “She’s like, ‘Yeah, let me see if I have a tourniquet.’ She ran to her car and brought back a belt, and we both put it on his leg, so we did stop the bleeding. We both did what we could at the time.”

“Talk about putting school to work into action,” said Westland Hialeah Senior High principal Giovanna Blanco. “It’s very important for our community to know that these programs do exist because we’re not only educating our students with the basics of math, science and social studies, but we’re also training them to become productive citizens in our community.”

Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho presented Rodriguez with a certificate of achievement, Tuesday, for her heroic acts. “This is a superintendent certificate of achievement written to you, a student at Westland Hialeah Senior High,” Carvalho said, “in recognition of your quick thinking response and the use of your life-saving CPR skills, which saved the life of a fellow citizen.”

Rodriguez has been preparing for a career as a first responder. “You never know what you’re capable of until you’re put on the spot,” Rodriguez said.

“This is the contagious nature of doing something right and something good,” said Carvalho, “so she’s going to ride with me downtown and participate in the kickoff of our blood drive.”

Rodriguez said she hopes to meet Carter and plans to move to Tallahassee after she graduates, next month, to continue learning how to save lives.

Businesses in Miami-Dade, like Coldstone Creamery, are getting involved for anyone who donated blood Tuesday. If you donated blood, go to any Coldstone store in Miami-Dade to get some free ice cream.

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