“I was thinking, I could die. But I gotta see who’s in there. It could be children,” Ramos said Wednesday, an hour after pulling the driver out of his Ford F-150 to safety.
The truck crashed through the wall of the gas station store as Ramos and another man sat in their cars, waiting to turn at the intersection.
“I had just got off work at Monte Vista Middle School,” Ramos said. “I was going to make a right on Grant Line and head home. There was a car in front of me, we hear this big boom and I turned and looked and there’s a big Ford pickup plowing straight through the store.”
The driver of the car in front of him — whom Ramos knew only as the construction man because of the way he was dressed — also pulled into the station.
“We could still see the truck at the back of the store still going, still burning rubber,” Ramos said. “I see the construction man head on in there, so I went in right behind him with my hand on his shoulder.”
The men got to the truck as smoke from the spinning tires filled the store. The other man stopped the truck by turning the keys off, and Ramos said he briefly saw a dog in the passenger seat.
“He said, ‘Take him.’ I start pulling with all my force,” Ramos said, recalling the effort. “I got caught on all these water bottles and I just couldn’t pull him anymore. I just tried and I felt him budge, so I just kept dragging.
“I can’t see the front door, it’s so smoky,” Ramos said. “The smoke is already in my lungs — I didn’t think I was going to make it out.”
Ramos said he could hear the other rescuer coughing and remembered something he learned long ago.
“He’s asking, ‘Where are we?’ I can’t see anything, so I just kept moving backwards,” Ramos said. “I was telling him, ‘Keep moving. Keep moving. Get on the ground.’ That’s what the firefighters teach you in third grade. Smoke goes up.”
The Tracy Unified School District custodian — who said he had learned just days earlier he was going to be a father — said he fell to the floor, slipping on plastic bottles scattered by the truck going through the wall, but decided not to give up.
“It’s all I was thinking about, you know. I gotta survive for this child,” he said. “It’s all out of impulse. Adrenaline kicks in. I think that was the strength of God that helped me pull him out of there.”
The three reached fresh air a few moments later to find Tracy police officers waiting for them. Paramedics took the driver of the Ford F-150 to a local hospital, and firefighters rescued the dog from the cab of the truck.
Ramos said that an officer told him to leave the area, so he went home and hoped the man he helped save would be fine.
“I’m just glad that God put me in this situation and that I was strong enough to get him and myself out of there. I’m just happy to be alive.”
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4231.