This article was contributed by Jim Burns, communications manager with American Red Cross—Northern California Coastal Region.
For heroic actions that resulted in a life saved a year ago, three regional residents were honored with American Red Cross commendations on Tuesday, Dec. 1, in a virtual ceremony hosted by the organization’s Central Coast Chapter.
Danny Lucas Jr. of Watsonville, Chad Lucas of Watsonville, and Raymond Harris of Aptos received awards for the “extraordinary action” each took to save the life of longtime Watsonville Fire Department Captain Danny Lucas following a hunting accident in Montana.
The American Red Cross awards Certificates of Extraordinary Personal Action to individuals who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life.
“On behalf of our Central Coast Board of Directors and our chapter’s many volunteers, I was honored to present Red Cross awards to these three individuals,” said Michele Averill, CEO of the local chapter of the Red Cross. “In all likelihood, Danny Lucas would not have survived without the heroic efforts that his family members made in the seconds, minutes, and hours that followed his accident.”
In late November of 2019, Lucas was critically injured in a hunting accident when a stray bullet tore through the large femoral artery of his left leg, shattering the femur just above his kneecap.
Jumping to his aid, his sons and father-in-law applied an emergency tourniquet and helped transport Lucas through remote terrain to the nearest hospital two hours away. “The efforts of these three individuals that day made it possible for Danny to get the emergency care he so desperately needed,” Averill said. “We are so grateful for their heroism.”
Lucas was hospitalized for 41 days, during which he received 24 units of blood. As a result of blood loss and nerve damage, the lower half of his left leg was amputated. But Lucas survived, and he has been continuing his recovery at his Watsonville home since late December.
A committed blood donor himself, Lucas estimates that he had donated a total of 64 units of blood before his accident. Grateful for the people who donated the blood in Montana that saved his own life, Lucas decided to work closely with the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross to promote blood donations and sponsor a blood drive in February in Watsonville.
The collaboration was tremendously successful, as Red Cross workers collected a total of 80 units at a blood drive that is considered successful if it nets 30 units. In the years for which records exist, the total units collected were the most for any single drive in two of the chapter’s three counties: Santa Cruz and San Benito.
“Danny’s support of that and other Central Coast blood drives, coming during his own challenging recuperation, is plenty heroic,” Averill added. “But that wasn’t the focus of today’s ceremony. Today, we honored the three people who—through their courageous and compassionate actions that day—saved a life.”
Lucas and his wife, Cindi, attended the virtual ceremony, helping honor the couple’s sons and Cindi’s father. The ceremony, originally envisioned as an in-person event, was held virtually in deference to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Be prepared for your own lifesaving moment: Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. For more information, please go to redcross.org/takeaclass.
Know someone who might be eligible for a Red Cross Lifesaving Award? Learn more about the categories for these national Red Cross awards (and submit a nomination) at LifesavingAwards.org.
About the American Red Cross of the Central Coast: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The American Red Cross of the Central Coast serves the residents of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties. For more information, visit our website at redcross.org/centralcoast or call us at (831) 624-6921. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.