UNION CITY, Calif. - An off-duty Union City Police officer is being hailed as a hero after rushing to render first aid to victims of a serious crash, including three small children. It happened early Sunday morning on Highway 84 near Sunol.
The head on collision had just happened, when Officer Sarah Lings came around the bend.
She was on her way to work at the time.
"Basically there was no front end of each vehicle. I could tell if people were still inside, they would be severely injured," says Lings.
Though she was off-duty, Lings training, both as an EMT and as a Union City Police Officer, kicked in.
She grabbed the trauma kit she keeps in her personal car and ran.
Another Good Samaritan, who turned out to be a respiratory therapist, went too.
"When we discovered that two of the individuals did not have a pulse and weren't breathing, we knew we needed to get them out," says Lings.
Those two individuals were both grade-school aged children. A third child, also in the back seat, was alert and speaking. The children's mother was trapped in the front.
"We ended up cutting off the seatbelts and removed the children and began. I started taking care of one of them, CPR, compressions," Lings says.
The two women worked furiously on the children. They'd get a pulse, then lose it, then get it back again.
But with a total of five injured between the two vehicles, they needed more help.
"The problem was it was only me and the other female that were rendering aid. Cars kept driving by. So we were trying to wave down cars, trying to get more assistance," she says.
Assistance came after about ten minutes. First responders transported all the patients to area hospitals.
One of the children didn't make it. The other people were in critical condition.
"I know it's pretty touch and go for everyone," Lings says.
Authorities still don't know what caused the crash, only that the driver of the Chevy Tahoe for some reason turned into oncoming traffic, colliding with the family in the Dodge Charger.
Lings is just grateful she was there to help, that she had the right tools, and that her department puts such an emphasis on first aid training.
"That's what you think about after is what could I have done, what didn't I do. And that sticks with you, wishing you could do more," she says.
Lings says she keeps a trauma kit in her personal car for exactly this reason. And she wishes more people did the same.