Local woman comes to rollover victim’s rescue
EAGLE – The white car jumped into the air 10 car lengths ahead of Mariella Ruocco. The scene reminded her of a Weather Channel clip showing a car hurled about in the throes of a tornado.”It looked like a piece of paper blowing in the wind,” Ruocco said Monday after the accident. Ruocco works for Colorado Mountain News Media, owner of the Vail Daily.Ruocco watched from behind as the car left Interstate 70, spinning end over end and then hitting the ground. Three or four rolls later, the car came to a halt on the grassy median just west of Eagle, Ruocco said.”It rolled a lot; it was wild,” said Ruocco, who was taking her two sons to daycare at the time.Determined to help, Ruocco jumped out of her car while screaming commands at her 4- and 2-year-old sons to stay in the car.”Somehow they sensed the seriousness of the situation and they stayed in the car,” Ruocco said.Ruocco found a woman in her late 40s or early 50s behind the wheel, her head bloody from hitting the windshield and hands pricked red by cascading glass.
The passenger door resisted Ruocco’s attempt to open it and reach the woman. Instead, she opted to shimmy through the broken rear window. The glass tore her yoga pants as she slid through, placing her knee on the glass-strewn back seat.”When I crawled in she started screaming,” Ruocco said. “She was saying things like ‘Oh my god, oh my god.”Ruocco cradled the woman’s head in a hug for fear the supporting bones below might be broken. The woman groped and scraped with bloody hands for Ruocco’s own hands.She gave up her hand, soothing the petrified woman with words as she floated in and out of hysterical bouts of screaming.Help on the wayBefore long, another driver rushed up to the car and called 911 on his cell phone.Ruocco frequently glanced at her own car, worried about her sons. She asked another man to check on them.
Minutes later sirens heralded the arrival of emergency crews. The injured woman snapped back and worried about the car, saying “My husband is going to kill me.””We can replace the car, we can’t replace you,” Ruocco told her.Emergency personnel forced the car door back to allow room to place the woman on a board and strap a neck brace on her. The whole while, Ruocco supported the woman’s head and helped ease her onto the board.Ruocco let go, exited the vehicle and rejoined the woman, who was being asked if she wanted to go to the hospital.”It’s probably a good idea you go to the hospital,” Ruocco said.”How many times did I roll?” the woman asked.”You rolled a lot,” Ruocco said.The woman was transported to Vail Valley Medical Center where she was treated for minor injuries and was later released.
Ruocco left the scene to drop her kids off. She looked down at her hands, now stained red from the woman’s blood, and lost emotional control for the first time during the morning’s events.”I kinda freaked out and pulled over to the side of the road,” Ruocco said.Later that afternoon, she recalled the rush to help the injured woman.”In hindsight I didn’t even stop to think what I was doing,” Ruocco said.Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado