Rescuing strangers in need, Mont. Co. honors its everyday heroes

Both 2nd Lt. Wells Weymouth (right) and ENS John Hunt are medical students at the Uniformed Services University at Walter Reed. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Walter Lopez's story of rescue during the derecho

Megan Cloherty | November 14, 2014 9:59 pm

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County is honoring what it’s calling “everyday heroes.” Among them, two men who helped injured shoppers when a car plowed through a Sam’s Club wall last July.

“For them to recognize us, it was above and beyond what I expected,” says 2nd Lt. Wells Weymouth.

He recalls being inside Sam’s Club in Gaithersburg, Md., when the accident happened on July 23.

“We were walking out and all the sudden, we hear this loud explosion behind us. It sounded like a bomb. We turn around, and there was a car inside … still running. There’s smoke, there’s Gatorade bottles flying … it was a bizarre scene,” Weymouth says.

Both Weymouth and ENS John Hunt, medical students at the Uniformed Services University at Walter Reed, were running an errand for an upcoming training.

They assessed the scene and saw two men were injured. One worse than the other.

“His leg was critically injured to the point where it was falling off. So we used our belts as tourniquet to stop the significant bleeding,” Weymouth says.

Walter Lopez, a county employee, was also honored at the ceremony held in the Montgomery County Executive Building on Tuesday.

Lopez, who works in maintenance for the county, was on-call the night of the derecho in July 2012. Driving to a call, he saw a large tree fall across a major road in Bethesda, crushing a car and the person inside.

As other drivers tried to get around and get home to safety, Lopez felt moved to help the person inside. He couldn’t see the car under the massive tree and had to try and push branches out of the way to reach the driver.

“I could see lacerations in her head and the blood on her face,” Lopez says. He knew waiting for paramedics to arrive might take too long.

“By the time they come here man, it’s going to be too late. So, I opened the door and pulled her out,” he says.

The wind was so high it was throwing around branches, and downed trees and power lines made it difficult for Lopez to get the woman to the hospital.

“I was praying to God, looking at her bleeding, ‘Please don’t let her die. Please,'” Lopez says.

Weeks later, Lopez hadn’t told anyone what happened and had cleaned up the blood inside his work vehicle himself. The victim remembered he worked for the county and called every department, he says, until she found who she calls her guardian angel.

Also honored on Tuesday were two security guards who saved the life of a student by performing CPR.

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