So it began, while gathered for an offseason potluck up here at our third-floor outpost, with Rolando Cantu letting us know his beloved family dog Blackie had recently passed away. It turned out to be a story about a lot more.
Rolando, the Cards’ manager of international business ventures, always seems to have good stories to tell. He’s always out doing things that provide good story fodder. This time, though, it was all because of Blackie. Originally, Rolando was going to bury the dog in his backyard — Cantu lives in Maricopa — but eventually changed his mind. He and his neighbor instead climbed in Rolando’s truck to bury Blackie in the desert. The pair headed south and got way out there — some three miles beyond Papago Road. It was desert and nothing else.
This was Sunday afternoon. Driving on the way back from laying Blackie to rest in the blazing heat, the pair came upon a car that had clearly just flipped over in the sand, far from any paved roads. An older teen — 18 or 19 — struggled to climb out with three other boys in the distance running away (it turned out later they were running for help). Rolando and his friend went to help the boy who remain. The right part of his head, was — and I don’t want to get too graphic here — separated to the point where Rolando took the kid’s shirt and the pair used it to take turns holding everything together.
Then they tried to call for help. In the 911 call, Rolando made sure the dispatcher understood they were much too far for an ambulance to help. Sammy (they were able to talk some to the kid and get his name) wouldn’t make it that long. A helicopter had to be sent for an air evacuation. When the operator asked where they were, Rolando couldn’t help much, at this nowhere place in the desert. He explained approximately where they were and left his phone on, hoping it could be tracked.
Sammy’s grandfather eventually showed up (the other boys had run some three miles in the desert back to the family’s house) and it was certainly touch-and-go as Rolando continued to both hold Sammy’s head and keep him talking. The helicopter made it — it was dark by now, so when the copter made it into view, Rolando flashed the lights of his truck and made sure they saw the scene — and Sammy was airlifted away.
As of today, Rolando didn’t know for sure how things turned out, although he was trying to track down that answer (in all the chaos, he and the boy’s grandfather never traded names). Rolando did note one thing — as difficult on his family as it was to have Blackie die, if he hadn’t, and if Rolando hadn’t decided at the last second not to bury him in the backyard, Rolando and his friend wouldn’t have been there to help save a life.
Tags: Rolando Cantu
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