LUBBOCK, TEXAS — Heroes don’t just fight fires and go to war and help lost kids find their way home. They walk quietly among us in everyday life, step up without being asked and often deny afterward they did anything special. Thomas Prado fits that definition to a T. He recently risked his life to save an elderly wrong-way driver headed for near certain catastrophe on a Texas highway.
Prado, of Lubbock, wrote on Facebook that he drives about 540 miles a day and is used to seeing “many wild things on the road, but absolutely nothing this terrifying!”
He was driving on Highway 183 between Seymour and Mabelle when both he and the driver of an 18-wheeler had to swerve to miss the 94-year-old woman, who was speeding straight for them in traffic. He got out of his car and tried to flag her down, but she drove on.
What he did next “probably wasn’t the safest nor the smartest,” Prado wrote on Facebook.
The woman was coming up on a bridge, and if she crossed over, the highway would separate and there would be no way for him to reach and help her.
He whipped his car across the median to get in front of the woman, speeding ahead in the wrong direction himself. “Please don’t let this be her day,” Prado told KDCB-TV he was thinking. “Don’t let this be the day she moves on.”
Workers from Higher Power Electrical in Abilene helped block traffic, and an all-out effort by ordinary heroes was underway. This moment of uncommon valor might have been lost in a news cycle often skewed toward the dreadful if Prado hadn’t had his cellphone video camera rolling.
“Hey, you’re going the wrong way,” he said as he pulled his car beside the woman. “OK, here, I can help you. Just wait one second, OK? You’re gonna get hit. There’s cars coming coming at 75 miles an hour.”
She did finally stop and Prado got her into the passenger seat, where the woman’s sad story unfolded.
She said she needed to be at an appointment at 8 a.m. She was confused; it was 9 a.m., Prado said. Was there anyone he could call — a husband, son or daughter, friend?
There was no one. The woman said she had a cat.
“When she told me that all I remember is that I thought I want to get you home to your cat,” he told KCBD.
Looking back on it, Prado told the television station he realizes he “could have been the one [who] got it,” but he was thinking only about the woman’s safety. He’s glad he could help.
On Facebook, he said the “moral of this all” is a familiar theme in his social media posts: Look after elderly family members, friends and neighbors.
“I’m no hero,” he wrote. “I’m a sinner and mistake maker like you but I saw the right thing to do and so can you!”
However, those commenting on the video are rightfully disputing his casual dismissal of the extraordinary moment. His post has received thousands of positive interactions.
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Photo: Shutterstock / media_digital