City Council honors Aztec parent for heroism

By Dylan Wilburn
Aztec Gold Online

During a city council meeting Nov. 4, Mayor Oscar Leeser and City Council awarded Mike Wilburn, Marco Montelongo and David Cortez with the Civilian Citation, the highest honor the El Paso Fire Department bestows on civilians. The award is given on a case-by-case basis. City Council member Courtney Niland called Wilburn, Montelongo and Cortez “hometown heroes” to top it all off.

The three local men were recognized for their heroic actions in September when they saved a woman’s life during torrential rain and intense flooding that pinned the woman against a car in a canal as water rushed toward them.

“I would not hesitate to do it again, ” said Wilburn, when asked about the dangerous ordeal.

On Sept. 22 around 6 a.m., Wilburn was shooting video for a local news station of the flooded rainwater canal when he heard screams for help from Marco Montelongo and David Cortez, who are both teachers at Magoffin Middle School. Montelongo and Cortez were on their way to an early training session when they saw the woman in trouble and stopped to help. All three men and a few others, who have chosen to remain anonymous, spent 14 minutes trying to push the car off of the woman while trying not to get swept into the canal as well.

“The three gentlemen were nominated for the award for showing exceptional bravery and life-saving actions upon a fellow citizen. The Awards Committee, which I am part of, unanimously approved the recommendation. This speaks highly of all three men, ” said Carlos Briano, Public Information Officer of the El Paso Fire Department.

The El Paso Fire Department isn’t the only organization to recognize the men for their bravery. Regular people at regular places, like at Wal-Mart, often notice the men for what they did as well. Wilburn has reacted humbly to the recognition and is sometimes surprised by when someone will notice him.

“The last few times I went to the grocery store, when I am in line waiting to pay, everyone will stop and clap and call me a hero and ask to shake my hand!” Wilburn said. “One man even said it was an honor to meet me.”

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Photos by Danielle Miller, The Legend Yearbook Staff