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Life Saving Incident

April 10, 2023
Sacramento County

A California Highway Patrol officer is being applauded for his actions after helping a family in the Galt area of Sacramento County get out of their burning home. James Gutierrez, a member of CHP's community response team, said he was in Galt responding to a traffic complaint when he noticed the smoke and decided to check it out. Once he got to Stockton Boulevard and Walnut Avenue, he noticed a home in the area was on fire. "There were flames coming up the side of the house, and the backyard appeared to be on fire," Gutierrez said. Gutierrez said he called the fire department, but then he got worried that there might be children inside due to spring break schedules. He went up to the door and knocked, but nobody answered. The door happened to be unlocked, so he walked inside and started warning whoever he saw. "I figured there were people who might need our help," Gutierrez said. It turns out four girls were at home. Abygail Martinez said she and her three younger sisters were inside, but they did not realize there was a fire until they heard Gutierrez screaming. All four girls, as well as the family dog and cat, made it out and no one was hurt. The family is calling Gutierrez a hero, but he said that title is a bit overwhelming. "When someone says, 'Wow, you're a hero,' I go, 'Well, that's just kind of what we do,'" Gutierrez said. "I would think that any officer, fireman, police officer, sheriff would probably do the same thing in that situation. I happened to be at the right place at the right time." But the Martinez family said they are forever in Gutierrez's debt. "All of us, we are so incredibly grateful, and I don’t think we would exactly be here if it weren’t for him," Abygail said. Abygail's parents, Tiffany and Scott Martinez said they are counting their blessings. Although the family said they lost many of their belongings in the fire, they are beyond thankful Gutierrez stepped in to help. "This is all stuff. It can all be replaced. But he saved all my kids," Tiffany said, while she showed damages in the home. "If he wasn't in the neighborhood, things could be a lot worse. Like I said, they’re safe. I'm not planning a funeral today. None of my kids got burned." Tiffany was at work at the time of the fire, and Scott said he had left the house to go to their local convenience store. Scott said Gutierrez went above and beyond to keep his loved ones safe. "He's a great guy. He's an exemplary example of what should be behind every badge," Scott said. "I'm proud to have his serving our community, and I'm grateful for everything he did. He saved everything that's most valuable to us." The Martinez's neighbor, Erasmo Ramirez, also came to help the girls when he saw Gutierrez's patrol car on their street. He said he has little kids of his own, so he knew he had to assist in any way he could. "I would like to think my neighbors would do the same for me, so, I mean that's just what humans need to do for other humans; you know what I mean," Ramirez said. The Consumnes Fire Department said the fire was accidental, and it was caused by an outdoor heat lamp. Officials said the fire then went into the attic, which caused significant damage to many of the rooms inside the home. The Martinez family is staying in a hotel until they can begin the rebuilding process.

The history of law enforcement in the United States is a long and wonderful history of bravery. This website is dedicated to documenting the heroic deeds of law enforcement officers throughout the United States who have either given or risked their lives to save others. There are many stories of bravery and heroism for many who are considered first responders. However, it is those in law enforcement who are most likely to be the first to arrive upon a location requiring life saving acts engaging dangerous hostage takers, running into burning buildings/vehicles, providing first aid to seriously injured victims, saving near drowning victims and much more are what the women and men of law enforcement do routinely and at many times, great peril to their own safety.
It is our mission to document the history of lives saved by those dedicated women and men in law enforcement. To share with others the dramatic deeds of those individuals who are the first, first responders. It is so important for our citizens to understand that law "enforcement" is not always about enforcing the law but rather being there when our citizens need us.
It is to this end we are dedicated to promoting documentation regarding the history of law enforcement and the lives they have saved.