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Local News

Cicero residents honored as heroes for response to crash

From left: Fire Marshall Ron Kopecky, Maria and Mario Tamayo and Fire Department Chaplain Ismael Vargas pose for a picture at Town Hall in Cicero.
From left: Fire Marshall Ron Kopecky, Maria and Mario Tamayo and Fire Department Chaplain Ismael Vargas pose for a picture at Town Hall in Cicero.

CICERO – You can call them Batman and Robin, but that wouldn’t make them any more the heroes. Mario and Maria Tamayo are a couple who just did the right thing Jan. 4 because that’s how they are.

The Cicero residents were honored with a commendation by the Cicero Town Council on Jan. 28 for the role they played in helping three people injured in a traffic accident on Jan. 4.

The Tamayo’s were driving west on Pershing Road about 7:30 p.m. when they came upon a two-vehicle collision between 57th and 58th avenues. They pulled over and sprang into action as a woman bleeding from her nose, a passenger in one of the crashed vehicles, approached.

Mario Tamayo, a Red Cross-certified CPR and first aid instructor, popped the trunk of his car and grabbed a first aid kit. He instructed the woman to keep her head up and pinch her nose to stop the bleeding.

Maria comforted the woman as Mario approached the wreck, where another woman was standing, bleeding. She pleaded with Tamayo to help a young man who was trapped behind the wheel of one of the wrecked vehicles.

The woman said he was dying, Mario said.

Mario looked in the car and saw the man pinned between the door and the mid-console, held in by the steering wheel.

“He was pinned in the car, coughing up blood, begging me to remove the seat belt because he couldn’t breath,” Tamayo said. “I got in and tried to find the latch, but it was tucked in to far. I couldn’t even find the buckle.”

Tamayo got out of the wreck and ordered the injured woman to knock on the door of a residence and ask for a knife to cut the seat belt holding the man in the car. At the same time, he yelled to Maria to find his scissors in the first aid kit.

“I got back in the car and reassured the young man that I wasn’t going anywhere,” Mario said. “I was going to help him and that 911 had been called, and help was on the way.”

Maria arrived with scissors from the first aid kit and Mario first cut the top strap, and then, after some effort, the bottom strap. The injured man, still in great pain, started to breath more easily. Police and emergency units arrived a minute later.

The two later found out the woman with the bloody nose was pregnant, Mario said. He learned the other woman had suffered a fractured cheek bone caused when the man’s head struck hers in the crash. The man, Tamayo said, suffered a punctured lung and crushed pelvis.

Town Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias remembers Mario Tamayo from when she and her brothers would hang out when they were young.

“He was the type that was always helping out people,” Punzo-Arias said. “If someone didn’t have money for a Big Mac, he would give them the money for it.

“He was always giving, very caring, someone with a big heart.”

Punzo-Arias added the Tamayo’s are known for doing a lot in the community. So, it wasn’t any surprise to her when the Tamayos were called up at the town meeting to be recognized for their efforts.

“A lot of people don’t care, they look the other way and keep on driving,” Punzo-Arias said.

Mario Tamayo is an instructor at the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago. Maria Tamayo works in the Jefferson School library.

They have two boys, ages 11 and 12. Mario Tamayo said he is a born again believer and firmly believes God put him at the right place at the right time.

If there is a lesson to be learned, Tamayo said, it is to always be prepared.

“I just would like to stress to people the importance of taking classes in CPR and first aid,” he said. “It teaches you self-control and that can give people a second chance.”

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