FPD officers reunite with the man whose life they saved....
The scene was horrific.
A man laying in a pool of his own blood, alongside a mangled motorcycle.
His left leg was almost severed below the knee.
That’s what Fullerton Police Cpl. Matt Wilkerson faced when responding to a call of an accident at Commonwealth and Basque Avenues on the evening of Aug. 22.
“He was still conscious but I knew that time was very short,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson didn’t know it at the time, but the victim was Nick Wiltz, then 24, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer, who had just left the home of his girlfriend’s family nearby.
“Everything you’ve been taught from day one at the academy from all the years on the force just kicks in,” Wilkerson said. “I just knew I had to do something quick.”
Off. Michael Halverson arrived on scene seconds after Wilkerson and used a hobble as a makeshift tourniquet to stave off the rapid blood loss.
Then Off. Tim Gibert arrived with a tourniquet, which was wrapped around the victim’s injured left leg.
Paramedics from the Fullerton Fire Department arrived and rushed Wiltz to the hospital. Once at the hospital, Emergency Room personnel remarked that Wiltz would not be alive if the Fullerton officers had not utilized the hobble device and tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
“Personally, when Nick left in the ambulance, it was one of those things that you hope that he makes it but you don’t think he is going to,” Gilbert said.
Wilkerson recalls saying a prayer for Wiltz and his family after he left for the hospital.
Wiltz lost the lower part of his left leg and is recovering from numerous broken bones and punctured organs … but, yes, he did make it.
On Monday, Wiltz, along with LAPD Deputy Chief Jon Peters, Wiltz’s family and fellow officers from Wiltz’s Wilshire Area Division visited the FPD Mural room, where Halverson, Gilbert and Wilkerson were presented with life-saving awards from the LAPD.
“There are no words that can do justice for what you guys have done for me and my family and everyone who cares about me,” said Wiltz, propping himself up and standing on one leg as he spoke.
He plans to recover, get a prosthetic leg, and looks forward to getting back to work at the LAPD.
“Clearly if it was not for the extraordinary measures that the officers of the Fullerton Police Department performed that night Nick would not be with us today,” said LAPD Cpt. Rolando Solano, the commanding officer of LAPD’s Wilshire Division, where Wiltz works.
The Fullerton officers exchanged hugs with Wiltz and his family members and spoke for several minutes, as though they’d been lifelong friends.
“As soon as I found out that he was a brother (fellow officer), a lot of emotions came up, “said Halverson, who rode in the ambulance with Wiltz after the accident.
“We are the same age. It was like you were at the hospital with your own family member.”
Halverson and Wiltz have, in fact, become fast friends.
They’ve spoken several times since the accident and will continue to foster their friendship.
“Just to see him there with his family and all the support he has and standing up brought quite a few tears to my eyes,” Halverson said. “The last time I saw him, he was on the ground bleeding out and to see him today, that made my entire career.”
The Fullerton Police Department plans to recognize their own officers, and their-life saving actions, during Fullerton PD’s annual awards ceremony, which happens every June.