LATHROP – The scene just didn’t look right to Lathrop Police Services’ deputy Jeff Watson.
Parked on the side of I-5 was a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation transport van with both of the correctional officers standing outside of the vehicles with panicked looks on their faces.
So he stopped. And he was immediately told that an inmate was bleeding out in the back of the van and the two correctional officers didn’t know what to do. What Watson saw when he opened the back doors shook him.
Inside was a naked, 300-pound man that was completely covered in blood. The man, who had tried to commit suicide earlier in the week by cutting his arms at Kern Valley State Prison, removed his staples and used them to fashion a crude cutting weapon in order to open the wounds even further.
But he didn’t panic. With medical training as part of his background, he had the two CDCR staffers take the inmate from the transport unit, lay him flat out on the pavement, and immediately he began taking the steps to save the man’s life. He fashioned a tourniquet from a prison jumpsuit and using the fabric to soak up the blood pouring from his wounds.
On Monday the Lathrop City Council commended Watson for his courage and his composure as Lathrop Police Chief Danelle Hohe presented him with a challenge coin from the prison’s warden. She also gave him a declaration thanking him for not allowing the inmate to die on his way to receive psychiatric care at Stockton’s new prison hospital.
He also received a commendation from the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department for his bravery.
“You come to work every day and you don’t expect to come across something like that,” Watson said. “I have medical training in my background, so when I saw it, a different switch got flipped in my mind and I started thinking about things differently. You try not to get overwhelmed in a situation like that.”
Watson is no stranger to standing before the Lathrop City Council for special recognition.
Last year he was declared a “hero” after he ran into a burning building to save a family’s pet before fire personnel arrived on scene, and he bestowed the same moniker upon a Lathrop High School student who stepped in to stop a brutal fight that could have had tragic consequences if left unchecked.
The girl, then 16-year-old Asianya Jones, appeared with Watson before the council for special recognition from the City of Lathrop for her selfless act towards a fellow student.
When somebody recognizes you for the job that you do and they take the time to say thank-you or give you special recognition – it’s nice,” Watson said. “It’s not why you do the job, but it’s definitely rewarding knowing that somebody appreciates the effort that you put in.”