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Meet the tow truck driver who rescued a CHP officer under attack (CA)


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California Highway Patrol grateful for heroic effort



A 21-year-old tow truck driver is being called a hero after he ran to the rescue of a California Highway Patrol officer who was under attack.


"I saw the cop car pulled over with the lights on,” said Christian Melendrez, a tow truck driver who just happened to be in the right place at the right time Friday night along Interstate 5, near the Colusa County town of Williams.


The CHP says Officer Philip Martinson was stabbed in the back with a knife by a suspected DUI driver who was pulled over after speeding at more than 100 mph with hazard lights flashing.


Melendrez said it was instinct that made him respond to an officer in trouble. He said he jumped into action to follow the wounded officer’s instructions.


“The next thing was, 'Can you grab some handcuffs? Help me,'” Melendrez said. “So I did. I took the handcuffs off his belt from the back, turned her over, got one arm in, put one on, got the other one."


The struggle wasn't over yet, though.


“And then I turned her over and realized the blade was still underneath her. So I grabbed the blade and threw it on the asphalt,” Melendrez said.


The woman arrested was 25-year-old Haile Neil, of Martinez. She is now in the Colusa County jail, where KCRA 3 interviewed her on Tuesday.


Neil said she was en route to Oregon to visit her sister when she was pulled over. She said she was confused about what happened, but she denied attacking the officer.


Meanwhile, the CHP is grateful that Melendrez intervened.


“The good Samaritan, he put his life on the line,” said CHP Officer Franco Castillo. “We appreciate what he did for Officer Martinson.”


“It was definitely a brave act and very heroic on his part,” Castillo added.


Melendrez’s boss, Brad Selover, said he is proud of his employee's heroic actions. He said he instructs his drivers to be on the lookout for officers in trouble.


"They are out there daily helping us to slow down traffic, so I teach them to return the favor -- you know, keep an eye on the officers and make sure they are standing upright when they go by,” Selover said. “I train them to keep their eyes open for scenarios like this."


He said the hope is that “they never come across one -- that an officer is never in that position. But it happened and he acted and he did the right thing.”


For his part, Melendrez said he’s glad he just happened to be in a position to help save the officer.


“I'm glad he's good,” Melendrez said of Martinson. “I hope to see him soon and talk to him.”


Martinson is a four-year veteran of the force. The CHP said he is sore from his stab wounds but home now, resting, and expected to make a full recovery.


Neil is facing charges of attempted murder of a peace officer, assault with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence of a controlled substance.


RESOURCE LINK with video


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Tow Truck Operator Helps Stabbed CHP Officer


WILLIAMS (CBS13) — He is a tow truck driver being hailed a hero on the highway for helping a CHP officer injured in a knife attack.


Christian Melendrez is a tow truck operator for Selover’s Tow in Williams. Friday night he was driving near Williams on Interstate 5 when he saw two bodies wrestling off the side of the interstate near a CHP patrol car. He pulled over to see if he could help.


“So I got out of the tow truck, I started, once I got down, I was like, okay they’re really fighting like wrestling,” Melendrez said. “I started running that way.”


Melendrez saw CHP Officer Philip Martinson in trouble.


“First thing when I got there, the first thing he said was, ‘I’ve been stabbed, she stabbed me with a blade,” Melendrez said.


Officer Martinson had reportedly been stabbed in the back by the woman he pulled over for speeding, 25-year-old Haile Neil, of Martinez. Melendrez pulled the officer’s handcuffs from his belt.


“He was like, ‘swing it on her,’ I was like, ‘okay,’” Melendrez said. “The first one I kind of struggled, the second one I was just, slap it on there.”

A police radio recording includes the call officer Martinson made into dispatch shortly after.


“I’m at Selover’s Tow,” Martinson said in the recording. “Here help me, dude. One female in custody. I’ve been stabbed in the back.”

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“So afterward, when we had her under control, I started lifting up his vest and his shirt, and that’s when all the blood started coming out,” Melendrez said.


A wild scene that could have ended so much worse, if not for a tow truck operator showing no hesitation to help.


“Hero, not really,” Melendrez said. “Did I help out a lot, did I make a difference? I probably did.”


That CHP officer was flown to a trauma center, but has been released and is expected to make a full recovery. Melendrez says he is now considering a career in law enforcement.


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Good Samaritan springs into action to help injured CHP Officer

By the time Christian Melendrez made it over, CHP Officer Philip Martinson had already been stabbed in the back.




WILLIAMS, Calif. — Some superheroes wear capes. Others work as tow truck operators. What Christian Melendrez did on Friday night is the definition of heroic.


It was a routine shift for the 21-year-old towing operator on Friday evening. He was heading to Williams to pick up a vehicle when he noticed something on the side of Interstate 5 that he couldn't ignore.


"I came across a CHP officer patrol car pulled over with another vehicle...he was wrestling on the ground," recalled Melendrez.


What Melendrez came across was CHP Officer Philip Martinson wrestling with a driver he'd pulled over on suspicion of driving impaired. By the time Melendrez made it over to the skirmish, Martinson had already been stabbed in the back by 25-year-old Halie Neil. Fortunately, Melendrez was able to tackle Neil and get her in handcuffs before she could do something worse.


"First thing I did was grab (Officer Martinson's) handcuffs from the back, and I grabbed her hands and handcuffed her. Then I turned her over to look for the knife. I saw the knife laying there and threw it on the asphalt," said Melendrez.


Had Melendrez not stepped in, the outcome could have been a lot different.


"Definitely saved his life and her life. Christian went above and beyond that day," CHP Officer Franco Castillo told ABC10.


As far as Melendrez's future aspirations are concerned, he hopes to one day join the force. 


"I've always wanted to be a CHP Officer. The moment they give me the application, I'm definitely going to fill it out. And hopefully, I'll have some great references," Melendrez said.


Neil is being charged with attempted murder.


RESOURCE LINK with video

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