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Andress students hailed as heroes for assisting WWII veteran who fell near campus

(ANDRESS HIGH SCHOOL – Jan. 12, 2022) – Two Andress High School students are being lauded for their quick thinking and compassion after they rendered aid to a resident who fell and became immobilized along Sun Valley Drive near the Northeast El Paso campus.

The good Samaritans are senior students Christian Lugo and Tyler Cooper. The pair were headed back to campus from lunch Dec. 1, 2022, when they noticed Matilde Vega, a World War II veteran, on the ground in the roadway. They quickly made a U-turn and exited the vehicle to assist Vega. The 95-year-old man had fallen on the asphalt and was unable to move after fracturing his hip. He was also bleeding from a gash on his head.

“Everyone was going above the speed limit and he was on the street,” Lugo said. “It looked dangerous. No one was stopping.”

The two young men called 911, helped Vega to his house and waited with him until the ambulance arrived.

“We made sure he was OK,” Cooper said. “All he was talking about was that he was going to get in trouble with his daughter for going outside.”

Vega’s daughter, Margaret Binkley, expressed gratitude for the assistance provided to her father. She tracked the boys down to thank them and give them some goodies for their thoughtfulness and quick action. Her dad underwent a partial hip replacement surgery and has been in a rehabilitation hospital since the incident.

“He is in good spirits but would like to thank the two youths that helped him that fateful day,” Binkley said. “If not for their bravery and compassion the outcome might have been different.”

Binkley explained that her father went outside because something shiny in the street in front of his driveway caught his attention. It turned out to be a nail. Vega didn’t want his daughter to drive over it with her car, so he went to pick it up. He left the house without his cane and fell.

“The next thing he remembers is watching the vehicles passing him close by and not stopping,” Binkey said. “Not able to move, he is lying there in a panic that one of the vehicles will hit him. Then a white car makes a U-turn in the busy traffic, parks, and two young men run to his aid.”

The two Andress students didn’t hesitate to help Vega.

“I help my grandma a lot. She’s fallen and broken her hip before,” Cooper said. “I would want someone to do the same if it were my grandma. It’s what everybody should do.”