A North County postal carrier, honored Monday for pulling two people from a burning car after a collision, said an image of his mother popped into his mind and urged him to get involved.
Eric Reyes was presented with a letter from the Postmaster General of the United States Monday to reward his bravery in connection with a traffic collision on Oct. 16.
Reyes was delivering mail when he heard the sound of a crash near Lincoln Avenue and Harding Street in Escondido. When asked about why he decided to rush over to help, he said his mother told him so.
"She had passed away about 9 years ago. I had an image of her that just popped in my head and started yelling at me to go help," he said. "Even though she's gone, when she says something I react."
Chris Aaron was dazed and his girlfriend, Angelique Arenas, was unconscious after their Volkswagen was struck by a pickup truck. The impact had caved in the passenger side of the car and sparked a fire.
"It just came out of nowhere," Arenas told us about the man who cut them out of their seatbelts. "He was just going so fast we didn't even see him."
"I will never be able to repay him. He saved my life definitely," she said in a previous interview with NBC 7.
While Aaron suffered cracked ribs, Arenas broke ribs on her right side and fractured her neck and pelvis. She also suffered brain swelling and burns.
Reyes, a U.S. Marine veteran who served for 12 years as a munitions technician including a tour in Afghanistan, said it shouldn't be so unusual for someone to offer to help another person in need.
"After having been in [Operation Enduring Freedom] in the past, having been to war in the past, it’s not a big deal, at least for me, to go ahead and help somebody who needs help,” Reyes said.
He received the award at the Orange Glen Station Post Office on E. Valley Parkway and as part of the ceremony, he also got a hug from Arenas who considers him her guardian angel.