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Community Rallies Around Lodi Grandfather, Officer Who Rescued Him.

Gaby Muro

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LODI – A video uploaded by the Lodi Police Department to YouTube showing the instant actions of an officer to save a wheelchair bound man from an oncoming freight train gained national attention.

In the video, Lodi Police Officer Erika Urrea is seen driving her patrol vehicle in the area of Lodi Avenue when she noticed a wheelchair bound man stuck on train tracks. 

In the video Officer Urrea asks the man if he can get out of his wheelchair. She then starts telling the man to get up as she notices a train quickly approaching. 

A few seconds later Officer Urrea pulls the man off his wheelchair as the train passes by. She then asks for an ambulance.

She and assisting Officer Delgado tended to the man while they waited for an ambulance to arrive. 

A GoFundMe account identified the man as Jonathan, a 66 year old grandfather. He sustained a serious leg injury during the rescue and was rushed to a hospital.

On the GoFundMe account created by one of Jonathan’s grand kids, Ruby Mata, states “We are so thankful for her courageous act of heroism and we know that God put Officer Urrea in the right place at the right time. Heroes truly do exist, and thanks to her, my grandpa is alive and breathing.”

The account also states one of Jonathan’s legs had to be amputated and the other was fractured. 

Money is being raised to help replace his wheelchair and cover medical expenses. If you would like to donate to the account, CLICK HERE.

Photo: GoFundMe

Gaby Muro is a journalist specializing in local issues and breaking news. She holds two degrees from San Joaquin Delta College. In 2018, she was considered one of the top 40 journalism students in the United States and received a scholarship to cover international conflict news near the Israeli-Syrian Border for 10 Days. Some of her work as a student has been submitted to the Student Emmy Awards. She was crowned the 2019 Miss Merced County title holder through the Miss America Organization and competed for the title of Miss California, advocating for epilepsy awareness. She has been featured on Investigation Discovery, profiling local homicide cases. Gaby is a native of Stockton, California.

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Child Taken in Stolen Auto Reunited with Family

Carlos Rodriguez

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MERCED – The parents of a three year old girl who was taken with their car as it was stolen were relieved to have their child back home Monday night.

The incident happened at about 6:45pm on the 400 block of West 27th Street, as Melissa Foster was preparing to take her Toyota Corolla to a car wash.

“I took one second just to run back to my porch to grab my purse,” Foster said. “In that split second, my mom saw the car door open and close.”

Someone had jumped into the car and began driving off with it. Melissa’s three year old daughter Jessie Sanchez, or “JJ” as she is affectionately called, was still inside. Melissa chased after the car on foot for two blocks before the vehicle was able to get away.

She believed whoever took her car and her daughter had been watching and waiting for her.

Police searched the surrounding neighborhood for any sign of the the stolen vehicle and the child.

“Commonly when someone steals a car and finds a child inside they (the suspect) will usually abandon the car within three or four blocks,” said Captain Jay Struble with the Merced Police Department. “Unfortunately this was not the case here.”

As time continued to pass with no sign of the car or the child, authorities issued an Amber Alert. Photos of the car and child were posted and shared to social media sites to help the word spread.

At about 8:45pm, the California Highway Patrol received a call from a citizen saying they saw the vehicle parked at a Chevron in Chowchilla. Authorities responded and found the vehicle abandoned with the child inside. Officers had to force entry into the vehicle to gain access, but found the child was unharmed and uninjured.

Detectives with the Merced Police Department, officers with Chowchilla Police and California Highway Patrol, as well as a K-9 from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office searched the area for any signs of a suspect. Monday night there was no word of an arrest.

Captain Struble said investigators were looking at surveillance video from the area, but they can only make out what appeared to be a male figure.

Jessie was brought home and reunited with her family in Merced shortly before 9:30pm. To brighten her spirits, Officer Rogelio Rodriguez bought her lollipops to enjoy on the drive home.

“She was very excited to see her mom and dad when she got back.”

The parents expressed their gratitude for the authorities involved in searching for little Jessie, and thankful for the public and Amber Alert system that made everything in this incident work out.

“Your mind is just a fog in that moment,” the child’s mother said of the two hours waiting while police searched for the girl. “I know she’s so strong and so brave.”

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Amber Alert: Vehicle Stolen With Toddler Inside

Carlos Rodriguez

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MERCED – Authorities searched for a vehicle that was stolen late Monday afternoon with a toddler inside.

The vehicle was taken at about 6:45pm from the 400 block West 27th Street. The car was described as a Silver Toyota Corolla with the California license plate 4VMS942.

The child, a 3 year old girl names Jessie Sanchez, was in the vehicle when it was taken. She has black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a pink sweater, green shirt, and black pants with pink stars.

The California Highway Patrol says the vehicle was taken by an unknown suspect and last seen heading south on West 27th Street.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Jessie Sanchez or the vehicle is encouraged to call 911 immediately.

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House Fire Reported In Patterson

Carlos Rodriguez

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PATTERSON – Firefighters responded to a report of a home on fire early Monday evening.

The fire was reported shortly after 7:30pm near the area of Ward and Las Palmas Avenues. The initial reports indicated a roof on fire at a home.

Arriving fire crews located a home fully engulfed. Roadways around the fire were closed off to traffic for personnel working the incident.

At publication time, there was no report of injuries or a cause of the fire.

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