OGDEN -- Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Alex Williams says it was happenstance that he was driving north on Interstate 15 on June 25, when a frantic motorist waved him over, pointing to a car upside down in a ditch.
"I was off-duty, heading down to Ogden and got to Smith and Edwards (at the Weber County line) when I figured it wasn't going to work out for the day," Williams said. So Williams turned around and headed back to Brigham City, where he lives.
Between 1100 South and the Perry rest stop, the motorist waved him over. There, Heidi Orosco's car was upside down in a ditch, the inside of the car filling with water, with Orosco still in it. Williams didn't know the woman's plight "until I opened the door and everything's floating," he said.
He quickly cut Orosco's seat belt, pulled her head up out of the water, saw water drain out of her mouth, then heard her take a few gasping breaths.
He held her out of the water so she could breathe for 20 minutes until rescuers arrived and pulled her out.
For his quick thinking, Williams was honored Wednesday by the American Red Cross of Northern Utah with its First Responder Hero award. The award was made at an annual luncheon at Union Station.
The Red Cross gives the awards every year to members of the community who have distinguished themselves through community service or acts of heroism. This year's awards and honorees also included:
* Lifetime Achievement Award, to John and Karen Gullo, who founded the American Dream Foundation and have funded or sponsored a wide variety of community-service activities over the years, including the Christmas Box House and the Hot Rockin' 4th.
* Educator Hero, to Liz Chicado, a 40-year volunteer for the Red Cross who teaches International Humanitarian Law to volunteers.
* International Heroes, to Aaron and Monica Skonnard, of Fruit Heights, and their children Michael and Michelle. The Skonnard family raised $20,000 last year to help build a school in Kenya. Their quest included traveling to Kenya to build the school. Michael built pews for the church as his Eagle Scout project.
* Youth Good Samaritan Hero, to Jack Stevenson, 7, of Clinton, who sold snow cones last summer and raised $1,700 to help both Orem and Clinton fund their police dog programs.
"I basically raised money to help dogs because they keep us safe, so we should keep them safe," he said.
* Good Samaritan Hero, to Sgt. Mitch Lane, Utah Division of Wildlife Services, who came across a 13-year-old boy who had been hit by lightning while hiking on the rail trail in Plain City. Despite the continued storm and lightning striking all around him, Lane administered CPR until help arrived. The boy survived.
* Community Service Hero, to Robert Hunter, chief executive officer of the United Way of Northern Utah, for his lifetime of service to the community as a politician and city manager, his work helping the 2002 Olympic Games get established and his devotion to many other service boards.
Orosco said she didn't remember a lot about her accident except going in the water and then, while Williams was holding her up, complaining that it hurt.
"I told her if it hurts, that's good," Williams said.
Orosco said she does remember being pulled from the wreck and taken by helicopter to a hospital, where she spent 3 1/2 weeks recovering from a broken neck.
"I was paralyzed, I couldn't move," she said as she stood next to Williams on Wednesday. But she has recovered now, certainly enough to reach over and give him a surprise hug.