Two West High School students were recognized on Friday for their quick action that saved the life of Assistant Attorney General David Carlson last year when his car crashed.
A school assembly during which Attorney General Sean Reyes presented the students with certificates of appreciation was the first time Carlson got the chance to meet seniors Felix Ortiz and Grant Dunkley.
“It’s breathtaking to see Dave here with us today and knowing what we did and trying to remember the situation that we were in,” Ortiz said.
On Feb. 19, 2019, 17-year-old Ortiz and 16-year-old Dunkley were driving home from school when they noticed a car flipped over on the 600 North on-ramp to I-15 in Salt Lake City. Ortiz pulled Carlson from the vehicle and he and Dunkley performed life-saving CPR until first responders arrived.
“I definitely was very stressed and scared honestly for not only him but just myself and how it would feel if I wasn’t able to help him,” Ortiz said. Dunkley said it was a scary experience and at first he wasn’t sure if they should pull Carlson from his car out of fear that he might have damage to his neck.
Carlson said he was grateful to meet the young men who saved his life. “I’m so fortunate that these two brave young men came across me. Felix was prepared and he had the courage to act,” Carlson said to the student body.
Carlson doesn’t remember the crash but knows he was in a contentious hearing at the state Capitol earlier that day and he lost consciousness while driving onto the freeway.
He said recovery had been a long process. Carleson’s heart stopped beating during the crash leaving serious consequences, including a broken back and traumatic brain injury. However, the actions of Ortiz and Grant kept him from losing as much blood supply to his brain.
“The actions of these two boys not only saved my life but saved me with a life worth living. I’m very grateful to both Felix and Grant for their courageous action that day” said Carlson.
Ortiz said he and Dunkley “really weren’t expecting any of this at all” and the award was a surprise to them.
Ortiz’s advice to other high school students who see someone in need was “always take action even if you don’t know what you’re doing — doing something is better than just standing there and doing nothing.”