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Council honors Citrus Heights police sgt. for ‘heroic actions’

Citrus Heights police sergeant David Gutierrez, sue frost
Citrus Heights Mayor Sue Frost speaks to police Sgt. David Gutierrez during a May 14 council meeting where the sergeant was recognized for “heroic actions.” Photo courtesy, Sac Metro Cable 14.

Updated May 16, 5:01 p.m.–
During a council meeting Thursday, City leaders recognized Citrus Heights Police Sergeant David Gutierrez for “heroic actions,” after reports recently came to light about three situations where the sergeant responded to critical situations while off-duty, including pulling a trapped woman from a flaming vehicle before it exploded.

Citrus Heights Police Chief Christopher Boyd told council members of the first situation where Gutierrez was traveling on Grant Line Road in 2009 with his wife, daughter and newborn baby, when a driver made a sudden u-turn and the truck in front of Gutierrez’s car slammed into the side of the turning vehicle. Boyd told the council Gutierrez quickly grabbed a first aid kit and ran to the accident, finding a woman pinned inside and bleeding from her head, along with a young boy and a screaming two-year-old covered in glass.

While the sergeant’s wife called 9-1-1, Boyd said Gutierrez found that the young girl’s hand had been trapped between her car seat and a smashed-in door. After forcing the door open, he pulled both children to safety while medical personnel and others soon arrived to assist in the effort, according to Boyd, who said he learned details of the event from the sergeant’s wife.

Two years later, Gutierrez and his family were traveling on Highway 50 to go see Disney on Ice when a “giant modular home” being pulled by a truck tipped over sideways and skidded across the road, with the truck landing upside down and badly smashed. Boyd told the council Gutierrez pulled over and was able to kick open the passenger side door as the truck burst into flames. The off-duty sergeant found a woman upside down inside with a “huge gash to her head,” and was able to pull her to safety as a bystander doused the flames with a fire extinguisher.

Boyd said the third incident occurred last November when Gutierrez was driving with his wife and daughter on California’s Highway 89. After turning off Interstate 5 onto the dark, two-lane highway, they encountered brush on the road and observed a black SUV crashed into a tree with sparks coming from the engine. As his wife called 9-1-1, Boyd said Gutierrez got out and was almost hit by a motorist who was swerving to avoid the brush. After removing the brush hazard to avoid another accident, the police chief told council members Gutierrez ran to the crashed vehicle and found a woman with her leg pinned under the dashboard.

Boyd said the off-duty sergeant noticed the woman going into shock and diverted her gaze from a small fire that had begun in the engine compartment, directing her to focus on his face. Showing the council a photo of the flaming vehicle, Boyd said Gutierrez was able to pull the woman through the passenger side window just before a “deafening explosion filled the night and the Jeep went up in flames.”

“This woman could have burned to death if he had not driven down that road that day,” Chief Boyd told the council of Sergeant Gutierrez. “He represents humility, understands personal sacrifice, and knows that his purpose is to assist others and never hesitate to help when the need arises.”

Gutierrez was introduced to an applause, with Councilman Steve Miller calling him “super-Dave.”

“I was amazed and proud and honored that one of our CHPD — even on his off-times — is a hero, running into the danger and saving lives,” Mayor Sue Frost told Boyd and Gutierrez. “And I have to say that your wife probably is a very courageous woman to go on vacation with you now.”

The sergeant spoke briefly, commenting that it was “an extreme honor” to be recognized, but said he didn’t see it as an act of heroism. “It’s just something I think we should do for people that can’t help themselves,” he said.

Gutierrez also received the 2015 “Service above self” award from the Sacramento Rotary Club for his actions, after being nominated by the Citrus Heights Police Department.

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