FOUNTAIN, Colo. — It was a routine drive, but the peaceful early morning commute quickly took an unexpected turn for one Fort Carson Soldier.
On Monday, June 26, Staff Sgt. Michael De La Rosa, a platoon sergeant assigned to 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment (Manchu), 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was driving on Interstate 25 in the direction of the Garden of the Gods for one of his Soldier’s reenlistment ceremonies around 5:25 am.
He noticed the vehicle in front of him began to veer off the road toward a construction site. Seconds later, the vehicle collided into construction equipment and came to a screeching halt. Staff Sgt. De La Rosa immediately called 911, parked his own vehicle, and approached the victim’s vehicle with another bystander to see how he could help.
“Honestly, when I decided to act — I was more worried about the victim,” said De La Rosa. “I felt obligated to save a life because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew I could have done something but didn’t do anything.”
De La Rosa soon discovered the unconscious victim all the way in the passenger seat and checked their pulse through a broken window. To make matters worse, the engine erupted in flames and De La Rosa could still not open the passenger door. De La Rosa and another good Samaritan broke through the driver’s side window to unlock the door and extract the victim from that side of the vehicle.
The victim was barely clear of the vehicle before it was entirely engulfed in flames. First responders arrived on scene shortly thereafter and called for a medical evacuation helicopter to airlift the victim due to the nature of his injuries. In a letter addressed to Fort Carson, the Fountain Police Department praised De La Rosa’s actions, saying that they saved the citizen’s life.
“If not for the actions of Staff Sgt. De La Rosa, the driver of the vehicle would have succumbed to his injuries sustained and would have perished in the fire,” the letter read. “De La Rosa went above and beyond to save the life of another person he did not know. This shows his true character and the level of commitment he has made to his community and his country as a member of the United States Army.”
Born in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, De La Rosa helped his mother, a single parent, take care of his three sisters while he was growing up. While he always wanted to join the Army, he prolonged enlisting until the age of 27 when he no longer had to help provide for his family.
“I joined the Army because it was always something I wanted to do,” De La Rosa noted about his service. “Being a Soldier means everything … I wouldn’t change it for the world.”