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Bystander saves a woman’s life

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Rodrigo Martinez-Sanchez stands in front of what remains of a barn and a trailer after a fire ravaged the structures on April 15. Martinez-Sanchez was hailed a hero after he pulled out the owner of the trailer, who is confined to a wheelchair. He not only saved the owner, but also saved the wheelchair.


Ron Pistoresi was awakened by noises across the street. He looked out his window and saw a barn up in flames and a nearby trailer home also in flames.

He called out to one of his workers, Rodrigo Martinez-Sanchez, to check on his neighbor, Connie, who lived in the trailer.

“It was a wood barn and it was a big fire,” Pistoresi said “Connie’s trailer house was about 20 feet away.”

Pistoresi, who’s house sets away from the street, knew he couldn’t make it to the house in time so Rodrigo went to find Connie because she is in a wheelchair.

“He lifts up the gate and asks some people watching if Connie was out and they didn’t know,” Pistoresi said. “He ran across the street and a bystander went with him.

“Rodrigo went to the back door because the fire was in the front and the side of the trailer was smoking. He tried to push in the back door, but he couldn’t get it open. He got it open and Connie had crawled out of her wheelchair and was against the door.

“Rodrigo got her to push back and he got her out. The guys helped him and got her down the back stairs. Rodrigo went back to get her wheelchair. He got her in the wheelchair and got her across the street.”

Pistoresi thinks in about 10 more minutes, the entire trailer house would have been engulfed in flames.

Pistoresi said it took the fire department more than 25 minutes to get to the fire.

“One fire station is 2 1/2 miles away and another is 3 1/2 miles away,” he said. “After Rodrigo pulled her and saved Connie’s life, it was another five more minutes before the fire department came. The fire had been going for about 35 minutes because you don’t see it until it gets big. When the fire department got here, they didn’t bother to go to the house and it took about four more minutes to start putting water on the house. They didn’t go inside the house or even ask anybody.”

The fire was eventually put out and Connie was okay. Meanwhile, remnants remain of the fire across his street, and Pistoresi is happy his neighbor made it out okay.

“Rodrigo Martinez-Sanchez is the hero,” he said. “Connie would have died if it wasn’t for Rodrigo.”


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