GG Good Samaritan saves child

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Garden Grove resident Carlos Aguilar said he's grateful he was in the right place at the right time, to save the life of a 3-year-old child who had wandered onto busy Garden Grove Boulevard just east of Beach Boulevard.

That's where the Garden Grove (22) Freeway exits and enters onto Beach Boulevard and then turns east or west — and it's always hectic with traffic at that intersection.

Garden Grove resident Carlos Aguilar said he's grateful he was in the right place at the right time, to save the life of a 3-year-old child who had wandered onto busy Garden Grove Boulevard just east of Beach Boulevard.

That's where the Garden Grove (22) Freeway exits and enters onto Beach Boulevard and then turns east or west — and it's always hectic with traffic at that intersection.

"I was coming home from Santa Ana in my 1962 Chevy Impala at about 7:30 p.m.," said Aguilar. "It was getting dark and for some reason, in Santa Ana, I decided to get on the 22 Freeway and exit at Beach Boulevard (I usually take surface streets in that car), then I turned right onto Garden Grove Boulevard, which is two blocks from Fern Street where I live."

As he prepared to turn left onto Fern Street, from Garden Grove Boulevard, Aguilar said he saw the child standing in traffic on Garden Grove Boulevard.

"I turned my car into the left turn lane that was coming from the east, to block traffic from coming onto Fern Street," he said.

Then, Aguilar said he was planning on getting out of his car and taking the child to safety, but before he could get out of his car, he saw another car on Garden Grove Boulevard almost hit the child.

"That frightened me; I don't know what I would have done if the child had gotten hit," Aguilar said. "When the car missed the kid, the kid ran back toward a car that was turning right off of Fern Street, onto Garden Grove Boulevard and stood by the car door, but no one assisted the child, even though the child was standing right by their car door."

Aguilar said once he saw the traffic was clear from both directions, he scooped up the child in his arms, put him in his car and drove down the street to his own home and called the police, where he and his wife waited for officers to arrive.

It turns out that the child's parents live nearby.

"The police brought the child's parents to my home, where the father thanked me," Aguilar said.

Garden Grove police were quick to respond, according to Aguilar.

"It wasn't more than 20 minutes before the child and his parents were reunited."

Because that particular Fern Street (there's another Fern Street near Cerritos in Stanton), is divided, with the west side being in Stanton and the east side being in Garden Grove, both police departments responded to the emergency.

The duplex homes on the west side of the street have security screens with strong locks, but the screen door where the child lives accidentally got opened, while the father was asleep on the sofa and so the child was able to get outside and onto the street.

"That was so very dangerous and the child was so close to being hit. That would have been horrible," Aguilar said. "I'm really glad everything turned out OK."

Aguilar said he was surprised to receive the "Chief's Coin of Merit" from the Garden Grove Police Department a few weeks later.

"I was pleased and surprised that the police officer would take time to acknowledge what I did," Aguilar said. "It was great to be noticed and recognized."

Aguilar was one of 58 Good Samaritans who were recognized by the Police Department.

Aguilar, who is a jockey and rides quarter horses for various trainers at the Los Alamitos Race Course, said he has been riding since he was 17 years old.

"I came from the streets and was in gangs," he said. "It was very hard to get started in horse racing with no background in that area and no father or grandfather who had been in the business."

He eventually attended jockey school in Lancaster during the 1980s.

"I was told I couldn't be a jockey, but I tell kids, 'You can be anything you want to in life as long as you put your heart and mind to it.'"

In 1988, Aguilar won the "Val Tonks Memorial Award" for the up-coming rider for the year in quarter horse racing. Tonks was a rider with a dream who was killed while riding quarter horses.

In 1992, Aguilar rode the World Champion Distance Quarter Horse at Los Alamitos, winning 10 races that year, when his horse was voted champion that year.

Los Alamitos Race Course, owned by Dr. Ed Allred, currently has both through-bred and quarter-racing horses, where Aguilar has won races for Dr. Allred.

The "Chief's Coin for Merit" is a way for Garden Grove Police Chief Kevin Raney to honor men and women within the community who risking their own safety to help their neighbors and/or strangers.

Those 58 Garden Grove residents recently received that personal thank you from Raney, during the third annual "Chief’s Coin for Merit" dinner, held at the Community Meeting Center.

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