The sound was unmistakable. Benji Rogers, general manager at U-Haul Moving and Storage at South Westmoreland Road in Dallas, heard it from the back of his store and knew it had to be a pretty bad car crash.
His natural instincts, honed by his years as a sheriff’s deputy and prison guard, told him to rush to see if he could help.
“I saw people looking over a bridge about 100 feet away, so I ran to see what happened,” Rogers recalled. “When I got there, I saw a car upside down in the creek bed. It was really overwhelming, to be honest, to see that the vehicle went over the bridge and into the creek. I automatically assumed the person in the car was dead.
“Then,” he continued, “I realized it was a police car. I wouldn’t say it gave me more urgency to help, but it definitely had an impact because of my history in law enforcement. It made me think of my brother, who is a sheriff’s deputy in Florida.”
An Officer in Need
Rogers and a few others ran down to help.
“I stuck my head in the car and saw the officer looking at me,” Rogers noted. “He was in and out of consciousness, mumbling that he couldn’t breathe. The roof of the car was crushing him, so I knew we had to get the car on its side or he wouldn’t make it.”
Rogers and about 10 other strangers worked together to lift the car onto its side and were holding it there until more first responders could arrive. But that’s when they noticed smoke and flames coming from the car’s engine.
“We had to get him out of there before the entire car exploded,” Rogers said. “I grabbed him under his arms and was able to stand up and pull him out. Another officer helped me get him to the creek bank, and the paramedics took it from there.”
The first responders thanked Rogers and the other good Samaritans for their help, and Rogers realized there was really nothing more he could do, so he returned to his store and got back to work.
“I had a lot of adrenaline afterward, but I’m able to control it pretty well thanks to my law enforcement training and experience,” Rogers said. “It was definitely a surreal feeling, but I finished working almost like it was any other day.”
The officer, Senior Corporal Dale Ordogne, suffered serious injuries but he is improving every day and is on his way to a full recovery.
Honored by the City
A week after the incident, Rogers and the others who helped to save Ordogne’s life were honored at a Dallas City Council meeting. City councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold recognized them for “stepping up to the plate” to help Ordogne, and Dallas Deputy Police Chief Albert Martinez thanked them on behalf of the entire department. Then, Rogers and the other good Samaritans were called up to receive a plaque from the city, along with a round of applause from everyone in the room.
“It feels amazing for the city to recognize me,” Rogers proclaimed. “Police officers still stop into my store to shake my hand and thank me, but I tell them, ‘No, thank YOU for all you do!’
“I wouldn’t think twice about doing it again. It was a group of complete strangers all working together to save another stranger. It feels really good to do something like that.”
Kevin Harless, U-Haul Company of South Central Dallas president, added: “I am so proud of Benji’s commitment to his community and his efforts to help save another person’s life, especially a police officer in need. What an amazing story and what an awesome Team Member! Way to go Benji, and thank you for representing our Company in such a great way!”