You can hardly see Morris Weinstein. He is standing to the far right, almost out of range of the Albuquerque police officer’s lapel camera, as the officer interviews a witness to a single-car crash.
Even so, it’s difficult to miss Weinstein. At 86, he is a ramrod-straight 6 feet, 2 inches and a sturdy 180 pounds. He wears his long, gray-white hair tied back in a ponytail. The witness gestures toward him.
“This gentleman pulled them out of the car,” he tells the officer. “What a brave guy. He’s strong.”
A split second later, after learning Weinstein’s age, the witness says, “You’re kidding me.”
‘Like an explosion’
“This vehicle hit the traffic island and did a torpedo into the air, at least 10 feet in the air,” Weinstein said. “It did a full 360 in the air. It did a 180 after it hit the ground. It was an amazing sight to see.”
Weinstein, seated at a table in his home near Lomas and Tramway, is talking about the car accident on Lomas on Oct. 23. On that day, just after 10 a.m., he was taking his daughter Lauren, who recently moved to Albuquerque, to a Hyundai dealership to buy a car. They had just turned into the dealership when the accident happened.
According to the witness’ description on the lapel camera footage, the car was traveling east on Lomas in the extreme right lane when it suddenly went across three lanes and slammed into the median.
“I heard this tremendous noise, like an explosion,” Weinstein said, continuing his tale at the table. “When they came down, all the windows blew out and the tires went flat.”
There were two people in the car, a young man at the wheel and a young woman in the front passenger seat.
“I could hear them screaming,” Lauren said.
Weinstein saw steam or maybe smoke coming from the car.
“He told me he was afraid the people were going to go on fire,” Evelyn, Weinstein’s wife, said.
Weinstein ran to the car. He tried to open the driver’s door, but it was jammed. He reached through the blown-out driver’s window and pulled the young man out of the car. Then he reached across to the passenger seat and pulled the young woman out of the same window.
“My father was unbelievable,” Lauren said. “He just lifted those people out of the car like they were nothing.”
The man and woman injured in the crash suffered bruises and abrasions and were treated but not hospitalized overnight.
‘Never been boring’
Weinstein and Evelyn grew up in Brooklyn. They met at a Sweet 16 party for a friend of Evelyn’s.
“She walked in the door, and I held my arms out to dance,” Weinstein said. And that pretty much was that.
Weinstein and his wife first saw Albuquerque in 1979. They had stopped here after a business convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, to visit one of Weinstein’s old Army National Guard buddies. They were impressed with the city.
“First thing, you could park anywhere,” Weinstein said. Evelyn liked the mountains and the weather.
They moved here in 1980 and have lived in their present home since 1982. From shortly after they settled in Albuquerque until 2008, Weinstein owned and operated Able & Willing, a wood flooring store.
On more than one occasion in his life, Weinstein has been in the right place at the right time.
When he was 14 or 15, he and a buddy were in a rowboat on Lake Huntington in New York when a wind came up and tipped over a nearby sailboat, spilling a father and his baby, 1 or 1½ years old, into the water. Weinstein and his friend went into the water after them.
“I went under water to get the baby,” Weinstein said. “My friend got the father untangled from the sailboat (rigging.) The mother was hysterical on the beach. I brought the baby, I don’t know if it was a boy or a girl, to her. Both the father and the baby were OK.”
And then there was the time in the early ’50s when Weinstein was working in Brooklyn at his family store, a third-generation business that sold paint and wallpaper.
“There was a butcher shop next door,” Weinstein said. “One of the owners collapsed with a heart attack. People were screaming.”
Weinstein, about 18 at the time, administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, keeping the man alive until an ambulance arrived and took him to a hospital.
“You do what you have to do,” Weinstein said. Just like he did at the accident scene on Lomas in October.
“People just stood there,” he said. “I took off running. I went into action.”
Evelyn smiles and shakes her head.
“I never know what he is going to do next,” she said. “Life has never been boring with Morris.”
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Ollie at 505-823-3916, firstname.lastname@example.org.