Good Samaritan in accident is a Local Hero to Red Cross

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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While working in North Auburn and training others through local Red Cross programs, Sean Ferguson sometimes wondered how he would react if the theoretical became the practical. “When you teach a class over and over, you kind of feel like you maybe don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ferguson said. For Ferguson, a Placer County probation officer who taught Red Cross CPR in Auburn for nine years, reality hit hard last November as he waited for his order in a drive-through line at a Carmichael Jack-in-the-Box. It was dark and raining as Ferguson noticed a youth dressed in black clothing walk past and toward Madison Avenue. Ferguson didn’t see what occurred next but what he heard made him spring into action and use the training he often wondered whether he ever would have to utilize. And his cool-headed efforts that night to save the youth’s life would earn him recognition this past week as a Red Cross “Local Hero.” “I just heard the sound,” Ferguson said. “I’ll never forget the sound. I jumped out and abandoned the drive through. That didn’t please the staff but we had greater concerns.” Lying face down on Madison Avenue, 17-year-old Nick Hill of Citrus Heights had been struck by a large, side-mirror on a truck and sent flying about 50 feet. The youth landed on his face, fracturing both his eye sockets and cheekbones. Ferguson said he thought Hill was dead. There was no movement but a check of his pulse showed that he was still alive. For minutes that seemed like hours, Ferguson would stay with Hill, removing blood from the teen’s mouth and nose to keep his airways open. A group of people formed a human wall to slow down traffic on the busy road. The driver of the truck stopped. But Ferguson found himself alone with Hill for several minutes as one woman yelled at him not to touch the teen and cars moved by. Several motorists snapped pictures with their cell phones but until the paramedics were almost at the scene, no one else came to the aid of the fallen teen. “I know there was some anxiety – one lady kept on yelling ‘Don’t move him’ – but for me it wasn’t a difficult decision because he was going to drown in his own blood if I didn’t tilt his head to clean the blood from his mouth and nose,” Ferguson said. Ferguson, a Citrus Heights resident who now works out of the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville, said he was able to keep Hill breathing until the paramedics arrived. Hill would spend six weeks in a coma but eventually make a full recovery. Ferguson would be at Hill’s homecoming party. Hill was there Thursday when Ferguson received a Local Hero “Good Samaritan, Adult Hero” award at a luncheon held by the Capital Region Chapter of the American Red Cross. The ceremony handed out 12 awards to groups or individuals “who have taken action in a time of crisis and shown extraordinary human compassion.” “He saved my life,” Hill said Friday. “I can’t thank him enough. If it wasn’t for Sean … if it wasn’t for Sean…” Ferguson said his life has been changed by those few minutes in the rain on a suburban Sacramento County street. “It’s difficult to describe,” Ferguson said. “It gives you a greater sense of awareness of how fragile human life is.” The message he’d like to give others when his story is told is that classes on basic life-saving skills are available, Ferguson said. “I’d encourage anyone to pick up the phone and sign up for the next class,” Ferguson said. “In one day they can learn the skills to keep someone alive until medical personnel arrive.” How to help - The Auburn office of the American Red Cross puts on a variety of classes, including CPR for adults. - The next ones scheduled for Auburn are on Sept. 21 and Oct. 2. - For more information, call 1(800)-445-8210 or go to