Instead of attending an annual holiday party, four Buhl Electric Company Inc. employees went for a swim.
On Dec. 23, Henry Nunez and Oscar Rodas drove a company van toward Buhl Electric Company Inc. in Sterling. Pablo Merino and Richard Salvatierra were in another van right behind them. The four men were headed to the company’s holiday party.
"We saw a car rolling over into a pond," Nunez said. "It was happening so fast."
Rodas told Nunez to pull over. Merino and Salvatierra parked behind them.
Nunez and Rodas ran toward the overturned SUV sinking into a storm-water pond on Route 659, north of Ryan Road in Ashburn.
"A woman ran out of the water screaming, my baby, my baby," Nunez said. "Everybody got scared."
The two men jumped into the water and tried to turn the SUV on its wheels.
"I remember seeing the baby inside," Rodas said. "I tried to open the door, but the car was locked."
Rodas broke one of the SUV’s windows with his foot and Nunez pulled the baby boy out.
"We were so happy because the baby looked alright, but the mother was still screaming," Nunez explained. "There was another baby in the car. It was so crazy."
In a joint effort, Nunez and Rodas pulled the second boy out of the SUV. Merino and Salvatierra dialed 911.
THE STERLING employees received the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s Bronze Medal of Valor at the 2006 Valor Awards, at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott Hotel in Dulles, Tuesday. The Valor Awards program honors Loudoun County public-safety workers and civilians who have risked their lives for others over the last year.
Other award recipients included Loudoun County Department of Fire and Rescue, Volunteer Rescue Squad and Sheriff’s Office and Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company and Police Department and Lucketts Volunteer Fire Department members.
At the ceremony, Valor Awards event chairman Stu Plitman presented Loudoun County Department of Fire and Rescue chiefs Joseph Pozzo and Joseph Price and Loudoun County Sheriff's Office's Stephen Simpson with a $1,000 check from the Valor Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing money to underfunded public-safety organizations in Loudoun County.
BUHL ELECTRIC Company Inc. president John Buhl remembered seeing his employees at the party that December day.
"They were soaking wet," Buhl said. "I am very, very proud of these guys, for what they did. They are an inspiration. They all are."