Rescuer, 71, Helped Pull Kids from Wreckage

Several good Samaritans helped to free victims of a rollover crash on State Route 54 at Interstate 5

By Chris Chan
|  Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013  |  Updated 2:02 PM PDT
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Here's a "good news" story that helps prove that age is just a number. When a car rolled over on a San Diego highway, Joe Bruglio didn't hesitate to pull over and help a group of men lift the wrecked car and pull children to safety - despite the fact that he's 71. NBC 7's Chris Chan has this exclusive.

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9 Injured in SR 54 Rollover

Nine people were sent to the hospital after a rollover on on westbound State Route 54 at the ramp to southbound Interstate 5 Sunday, March 17. NBC 7's Monica Dean reports.
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Several good Samaritans helped to free victims of a rollover crash on State Route 54 on the Interstate 5 South interchange.

They included a 71-year-old man who felt compelled to join others and help.

Mariano Avenido of Spring Valley was driving to the beach on Sunday afternoon with his wife, aunt, four kids and a neighbor on westbound SR-54 when he noticed a woman in a red Toyota sedan swerving to avoid a cushion on the road which caused the collision

"The first time she hit I was ok. The second time she hit the front of my car," said Avenido.

The sedan rolled off the embankment and Avenido lost control of his vehicle. Witnesses later told him his black GMC Yukon rolled two to three times.

Joe Bruglio, 71, was passing by rushed to help when he saw three men trying to get the family out of the car, attempting to lift the vehicle slightly to free the children trapped inside.

When more people came to lift the SUV, Bruglio was able to help the children slip out of the vehicle which was on its side.

"I grabbed a kid and pulled one out, then another one. The guy says one more, three of them. I pulled three of them out of there" said Bruglio.

Bruglio, who lives in a senior apartment complex in downtown San Diego said he felt compelled to help after seeing a news story on television the week before in which several men helped a man trapped under a car in a traffic accident.

"My back was hurting, but I didn't care. I'm gonna break my back trying to pick this car up," he said. "Boy if I was 30 years old I would lift this thing right up."

Despite the horrific crash all the victims in the SUV have returned home from the hospital, including a 61-year-old woman who was ejected from the vehicle.

Avenido feels he received a second chance on life. And he's also thankful for all those who helped him and his family in their time of need.

"Thank you very much to all those people who have a good heart," he said.
 

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