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Crime News

Unsung Hero: First Responder Defied Orders To Save Students at Parkland

Here's how one decision from Lt. Laz Ojeda saved a student's life during the Parkland massacre.

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

A first responder is being celebrated as a hero for his split-second thinking during the Parkland school shooting. Lt. Laz Ojeda of the Coral Springs Fire Department came to the scene when a gunman started shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was instructed to take a victim to the hospital but did something that possibly saved her life, as CNN reports.

He was told that the victim, Maddy Wilford, was 15 years old. She had been shot at least three times and lost significant amounts of blood. Initially, first responders thought that she was dead. Ojeda was instructed to take her to the children's hospital that was 30 miles away. Not sure of her age, he asked her how old she was. 

"I looked at Maddy, and she didn't look 15," he said. "We had been told to take her to (Broward Health Medical Center). I looked at her, I gave her a sternal rub, and I said, 'Hey, how old are you?'" 

She said that she was 17, so he made the decision to take her to another hospital that was only 10 miles away.

"We're going to Broward North!" he told his team. "It's only 10 miles away."

The victim was taken to the hospital and doctors were able to remove the bullets and repair the damage. They operated on her abdomen, chest and right upper extremity, where tendons had been described as "shattered from gunshot wounds." She was able to make a "miraculous" recovery and leave in less than seven days.

 "Her hospital stay was less than seven days," medical director of trauma services Dr. Igor Nichiporenko said. "Young people have a tendency to heal very fast. She's very, very lucky."

 Wilford now thanks everyone who helped her. 

"I'd just like to say that I'm so grateful to be here, and it wouldn't be possible without those officers and first responders and these amazing doctors," she said.

The unsung hero, Ojeda, is just thankful that the situation turned out for the best in Wilford's case. 

"I am beyond words. All I can say is that I thank God," he said. "I thank God for allowing us to be an instrument in this miracle."


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 [Photo: Getty Images]