FREAK ACCIDENT FEATURE ASSIGNMENT

The information below has been provided by a Tustin police officer. You’re a reporter for the Orange County Register and will be writing a feature story of 375 to 400 words for immediate publication. There is no right or wrong way to begin this story. It is a feature, so you don’t need to write a direct or hard news lead. Rather think of the most interesting way to start. This is a people story. Make good use of the many interesting and colorful facts.

Today at about 9:30 am, Marvin Fuller, 84, got into his 2011 Cadillac STS sedan parked in his garage. He and his wife, Sarah, 80, live at 1344 Cutler St. in Tustin.

Last night Fuller had backed his car into the garage as he usually does. However, today, as soon as he started the engine, he accelerated in reverse, rather than drive.

As best we can determine, Mr. Fuller somehow became momentarily confused and thought he had placed the car in drive.

He accelerated forcefully, propelling the car quickly in reverse.

The vehicle broke through the garage and then knocked over a small retaining wall surrounding a large swimming pool on the property. The car, with Mr. Fuller behind the wheel, plunged into the pool.

Meanwhile, next door Pablo Martinez and Santos Garcia were laying carpet in a vacant house. They heard the noise of the car crashing through the garage and decided to investigate what happened. Soon, they saw Fuller’s car partially submerged in the pool. The hood and windsheel were above water, but the car was quickly sinking further.

Once at the pool’s edge, the two workers were able to see a person struggling inside the vehicle. Mr. Garcia, 48, said he decided to extricate the individual.

Quickly he retrieved a hammer and slipped into the water. Mr. Garcia made his way to the passenger side of the car and sought to break the window still above water with the hammer. He was unable to do so, apparently because the hammer was not big enough.

At that point, Mr. Martinez, 47, jumped in the water with another hammer. Striking the window together, they were able to break out the glass and pull the person out of the car and to the pool’s service. It was Mr. Fuller.

Mr. Garcia and Mr. Martinez, again working in conjunction, applied CPR to Fuller. By this time, neighbors, alerted by the commotion, called 911. Tustin Police officers and paramedics arrived and found Fuller semiconscious.

Paramedics transported him to UCI Medical Center, where Mr. Fuller is in stable condition. No further details are available at this time.

You go to the hospital to see if you can find anyone to provide more information. You meet Sarah Fuller.

Mrs. Fuller has this to say: “I have been telling Marvin that he is no longer able to drive. He’s too far along in years. This is not the first time he’s had an accident. Sooner or later he was gonna have a bad one. If it had not been for those Mexicans, Marvin would be dead now. And he know, he doesn’t like Mexicans. And so now these Mexican guys saved his life. ”

You call the Tustin Police Department and speak with an officer doing press duty. His name is Officer Tony Stringer.

“This was a real case of luck and heroism meeting. Nobody could have saved this poor old guy had Martinez and Garcia not been right there and willing to take quick action,” says Stringer.

“The window of opportunity to save him was just a few minutes, so thank God they did what they did,” he continues. “You know, this one has a sad end. The heroes? Well, it turns out they’re illegal aliens. We were talking to them, and one got real nervous. We did a routine check on them. They’ve been deported once before years ago, so we turned them over to Immigration and Custom Enforcement. They have small kids and wives here, but it looks like they’ll do a lot of jail time. After that, they’ll be deported again, maybe this time for good.”