On a Friday evening, an Airman and his son were on their way to the Sam Johnson Fitness Center here, when they heard tires screeching on the road behind them and saw the sound was coming from a white car that then tumbled into a canal. The car quickly sank under the water, trapping three passengers inside.
Tech. Sgt. Jose Rosado, a 482nd Security Forces Squadron team leader, and his 20-year-old son witnessed the accident at the intersection on Jan. 29, 2016. Rosado got out of his vehicle to assess the situation.
“No one came out of the vehicle and I didn’t want it to be one of those stories you see on the news where no one survives,” he said.
Fearing the worst, he went to help the passengers inside the vehicle. He jumped into the canal and tried to open the car’s door.
“I broke the car’s window,” said Rosado. “It cut my hands, but I was able to pull the male and female passengers out safely.”
Rosado’s heroic actions didn’t end there. After rescuing John and Janelly Rivera from the car, Rosado realized another life was still in danger.
"Once the passengers were above water they started screaming their baby was in the car," said Rosado.
Again, Rosado jumped into the murky waters of the canal to save the couple’s child.
“Once I was under the water I couldn’t see at all,” said Rosado. “I started to feel around for the child and I felt him floating, still buckled into his car seat. I fumbled with the straps and clips to get him out. I crawled out of the canal and stood on the bank holding the baby. He wasn’t breathing, some water came out of his airway, but he was still blue.”
By this time other on-lookers had stopped near the site of the accident and called 911.
“Soon a fire rescue truck pulled up,” said Rosado. “I ran around the canal to an area where I could cross and gave the baby to the rescue team.”
The fire rescue team took the child to Homestead Baptist Hospital.
“That night I spoke to a nurse at the hospital, she told me the baby made a full recovery,” Rosado said.
Jose Rosado’s swift thinking saved a family of three after a dangerous accident and credits his ability to save the Rivera family to his military training.
“The security forces academy trained me to react to incidents quickly,” said Rosado.
After rescuing a family from a car accident many would feel their duty to help was over, but Rosado felt he could do more.
“I spoke to the family and found out the baby was going to turn one-year-old soon,” said Rosado. “The family had lost so much in the accident so I decided to start a GoFundMe account for them. Through donations we raised over $350.”
Due to his bravery in a situation that could have easily turned tragic, Rosado was nominated for an award by his peer.
“I posted a status to my Facebook about the accident, and a friend, Maj. Jason Reding, a 482nd Fighter Wing staff judge advocate, saw it and submitted me for an award,” said Rosado.
The award nomination process will be conducted by an education service committee who will evaluate Rosado based on job performance, scholastic achievement, education goals and leadership qualities.
“Rosado was nominated for the Pitsenbarger Award, which is given annually for heroic acts on or off-duty that saves lives or prevents serious injury,” said Rosado’s supervisor, Master Sgt. John Romeo, 482nd SFS noncommissioned officer-in-charge of operations.
Rosado, a Puerto Rico native now residing in Homestead, Florida, has served in three military branches; a Navy hospital corpsman for eight years, an Army infantry squad leader for seven years, and an Air Force security forces member for seven years.
“Rosado is an exceptional Airman,” said Romeo. “He is a great worker, a good supervisor, and he has spent 25 years with the military.”
“I have a wife and children of my own and they worry about me because they know my job puts me in harm’s way,” said Rosado.
Rosado’s 20-year-old son was with him when they witnessed this accident take place.
“When it was over my son, Joen, hugged me and told me he was impressed by how quickly I responded,” said Rosado. “This incident made me more aware that life is a gift. Tomorrow’s not promised so tell your family you love them today.”