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Inmate Work Crew Helps Injured Driver

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LAS CRUCES – The truck driver who veered off of Interstate 10 west of this city after apparently suffering from a heart problem received help from an unusual source: an inmate work crew from the nearby state prison.

One of the inmates who performed CPR after the victim stopped breathing and did not register a pulse was Carlos Fierro, the former Santa Fe lawyer and lobbyist convicted of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident.

Fierro was sentenced to seven years in prison for fatally striking a San Felipe Pueblo resident with his BMW after a night of drinking. The passenger in Fierro’s car was at the time a State Police officer and member of then-Gov. Bill Richardson’s security team.

About 9 a.m. Tuesday a corrections officer and an inmate work crew from the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility were headed west on Robert Larson Boulevard, a frontage road, to do some work at the fairgrounds when an eastbound truck veered off of I-10, crashed through a barbed-wire fence and nearly struck the state van.

The truck came to a stop about 100 feet from the work crew van, which the corrections officer stopped to render aid.

Because the truck driver, whom state officials did not identify Wednesday, appeared to be experiencing a heart problem, several inmates and a good Samaritan removed the driver from the truck. Fierro and an unidentified civilian took turns providing CPR until an ambulance arrived. Then the inmates assisted in carrying the victim to the ambulance, which was some distance from the spot where the truck came to a rest.

The condition of the truck driver could not be ascertained Wednesday evening.

Fierro is scheduled to be released from state prison on Aug. 22.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Cristina Rodda praised the inmates for rendering aid and not attempting to flee the scene. “The fact that our inmates were willing to render aid themselves speaks to our mission – we want our inmates to rehabilitate, we want our inmates to find a greater purpose in life,” Rodda said. “Something like this really speaks to a person’s character.”
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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