A quick-thinking 8-year-old may have helped save her father’s life when she called 911 after his pickup truck started rolling downhill and dragged him into a Riverhead street Sunday night.
Rogelio Galdamez, 40, was working under his red Ford F150 pickup about 7 p.m. outside his Horton Avenue home when the truck suddenly started rolling down the driveway, pinning him under a tire in the street near the Middle Road roundabout, he told the News-Review Tuesday.
“We heard him yelling, ‘Help! Help! Get me out of here!’ ” said Mr. Galdamez’ 8-year-old daughter, Marelin.
Marelin spotted her dad’s cell phone, which had fallen out of his pocket, and did what she was first taught in kindergarten to do in case of emergency — dial 911.
“In our school, they told us that’s an emergency number,” said Marelin, who will be a third-grader at Riley Avenue Elementary School this fall.
“He was trying to fix it when it slipped,” she said Monday, leading the News-Review to at first understand the man was using a jack; he later said he was working directly under the car, which sits high.
It took about six neighbors and family members to lift the car off Mr. Galdamez, the father and daughter said.
Police and volunteers with the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps soon arrived and began tending to Mr. Galdamez. He was then airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center by helicopter, according to town police, and the next day a Stony Brook spokesperson said he was listed in fair condition.
Marelin said her mother was at her father’s side as he recovered in the hospital.
He was released from Stony Brook later Monday and appeared to be in good spirits Tuesday afternoon outside the family’s house, where he was playing in the front yard with Marelin, her three younger brothers and younger sister, even though his abdomen was bandaged and badly bruised.
“Right now, it’s not too much pain,” he said before pulling up his shirt to display deep purple bruises and lacerations on each side of his stomach.
Mr. Galdamez said in broken English that he was proud of his daughter — and thankful.
“She did a good thing,” he said.