Fresno Police Officer Arturo “Art” Rivera had about 30 seconds to save an elderly disabled man’s life.
The man’s electric wheelchair was stuck in loose rocks beside railroad tracks near Fresno City College last summer as a train barreled toward him. He rocked back and forth, trying desperately to get out of danger’s path, to no avail. He didn’t yell for help, but Rivera spotted him and knew he needed some.
Sometimes it’s not so obvious, but if you pay attention, then you can help people.
Fresno Police Officer Arturo “Art” Rivera
The veteran cop who was on patrol jumped off his police motorcycle and ran to the man’s aid. Rivera tried to push him to safety, but the weight was too great. Knowing the train was seconds away, he was about to tip the wheelchair over and roll the man to safety when three other men arrived to help.
“We all lifted up the wheelchair and moved it over,” Rivera recalls. “As soon as we moved it over, the train came by.”
The next moment: “Relief.”
We can clearly see that police officers were in the right place at the right time and did the right thing.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer during an awards ceremony honoring members of the Fresno Police Department
Rivera received a Lifesaving Medal for his quick and heroic action during an awards ceremony at Fresno City Hall on Tuesday that recognized more than 40 members of the Fresno Police Department, including one officer who was seriously injured in the line of duty.
The 56-year-old Rivera is also a husband and father of two who previously served in the U.S. Navy. He has been a Fresno police officer for 30 years.
His wife, Laura Rivera, calls her a husband “a good man.”
“He doesn’t like to make a big deal about stuff,” she says. “He’s a quiet man, very committed to the department. He just has always wanted to be a police officer.”
Rivera hopes his story will inspire more people to help those in need.
“If you pay attention to other people, sometimes you can help. … A lot of times people won’t ask for help, like this gentleman” trying to cross the railroad tracks, Rivera says. “He was just trying to rock back and forth and get out of there on his own; he wasn’t yelling out for help or anything. So I would say hopefully people would take it upon themselves to help other people.”