California Highway Patrol Recognizes San Diego's Citizen Heroes

A CHP San Diego Open House event Friday and special ceremony honoring brave locals included an appearance by "CHiPS" star Erik Estrada

NBC 7 San Diego

California Highway Patrol officials in San Diego recognized five citizen heroes Friday who recently saved lives on local freeways, including a man who placed his truck in front of a driver who was losing control on State Route 94.

On Nov. 13, 2019, a Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) driver experienced a medical emergency while driving on SR-94 in Spring Valley.

Alberto Villareal Robles was in his truck – driving with his family – and saw the entire thing unfold.

When he and his wife glanced over at the FSP driver, they could see him hunched over in his seat. Right away, he knew something wasn’t right.

“I realized he wasn’t okay,” Robles told NBC 7 at the CHP awards ceremony. “So, I put myself in front of him until I stopped him.”

I put myself in front of him until I stopped him.

Alberto Villareal Robles

The FSP driver was unconscious and was losing control of his truck. He was drifting toward the shoulder of the freeway.

Robles said the driver was moving at a slow pace and he knew there was a way to help him without hurting himself or his family.

Robles slowly drove his truck in front of the FSP driver’s truck to slow it down.

The maneuver worked. Soon, both trucks came to a safe stop.

Robles then hopped out of his truck and ran to the unconscious driver, pulling him out of the FSP vehicle. He placed the driver on the ground and, alongside other motorists who had also stopped to help, they gave the man CPR.

“I didn’t think about it, I just did it,” Robles recalled.

The FSP driver survived, and no one was hurt in the incident.

“Ultimately, your swift and heroic actions saved the life of the FSP driver,” a CHP official said to Robles, handing him the CHP Certificate of Community Service award for his courage. “Thank you so much.”

Four other citizens were awarded the Certificate of Community Service for moments when their bravery on the road helped a fellow San Diegan in need.

They each shared the same feelings as Robles: they were given an opportunity to do the right thing, and they did it.

CHP San Diego’s Open House event was attended by local leaders and one familiar face with deep ties to the California Highway Patrol: “CHiPS” actor Erik Estrada.

Estrada famously played the role of Los Angeles-based CHP Officer Francis Llewelyn “Ponch” Poncherello in the hit 1970s and 1980s TV series. He posed for photos alongside local law enforcement at Friday’s event, including CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.

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