As SUV bore down, Manchester hero pushed his friend to safety
MANCHESTER — Abraham Santiago, who is still paying off thousands in medical bills after saving a friend from being hit by a speeding car last September, said he didn’t hesitate to stop and help when a man with a medical problem crashed his vehicle on Cilley Road in January.
But it is for the September act of bravery that Santiago, 24, is being honored as one of the recipients of the 2014 Union Leader Hero Awards, for risking his life to save a friend early on the morning of Sept. 22, 2013.
Santiago was at a party when a female friend, Geanary Arroyo, 20, began crying and left. He followed her to see if she was OK. As they walked out of an alley, just south of Laurel Street, and started to cross Union Street near Central Street at about 2 a.m., Santiago said he noticed a Ford Expedition about 50 feet away, heading toward them.
Santiago said he waved at the vehicle, to get the driver’s attention, but as he and his friend neared the opposite curb — just three or four feet from safety — the driver swerved toward them.
Santiago pushed Arroyo out of the way, but he was hit and sent flying 10 feet into the air before crashing to the ground. He was knocked unconscious briefly. The muscles on the left side of his body were bruised when he came crashing down onto the pavement, breaking his wrist, which he was told would require surgery.
“He saved my life,” said Arroyo, who hadn’t noticed the vehicle approaching.
Police said there were witnesses who confirmed what happened and described the vehicle as a dark-colored Ford Explorer or Expedition with a New Hampshire license plate starting with the numbers 338.
Santiago said last week that he has no regrets about what happened to him.
“It’s something I can take,” he said.
As for Arroyo, she is doing fine and is expecting a baby in a few months.
The driver involved in the accident was never found.
“It was probably somebody who was angry,” Santiago said. “That’s the way I look at it.”
He had to wear a cast on his hand for about 2-1/2 months, but said he went back to work at RMG Enterprise in Londonderry three weeks after he was injured. Within a couple of days of the crash, he said, the medical bills were already $5,000; he had no health insurance.
“I’m still trying to work on those,” said Santiago.
But he didn’t hesitate to help someone else in January.
“I was coming down Cilley (Road) hill,” he said, when he saw a vehicle crash into a wall.
“I called 911,” said Santiago. “The car was filling up with smoke.”
He said the 911 operator asked him to check and see if the man was breathing. He did and reported the man was breathing.
Other people began to approach, so with the phone to his ear, Santiago tried to coordinate the efforts to provide assistance until the EMTs arrived.
He told one person to turn off the engine.
“But it was a standard and started to roll,” he said. Someone jumped inside and pulled the emergency brake.
This time, Santiago wasn’t injured, but he doesn’t know what happened to the man whose car crashed the evening of Jan. 15.
Santiago said he doesn’t expect to make a habit of saving people’s lives, but he wouldn’t hesitate to help again.
The Union Leader Hero Awards honor New Hampshire residents who have risked their lives in the previous year to save or attempt to save the life of another person. The program is sponsored by Citizens Bank and presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Recipients of the 2014 Union Leader Hero Awards will be honored at a ceremony at the State House on Tuesday at 3 p.m. The event is free to the public, but an RSVP is requested.
For more information, contact Community Relations Manager Shannon Sullivan at 206-7833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.