Good thing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a gay rights supporter: Her intern Daniel Hernandez Jr., who’s credited with saving her life after yesterday’s shooting by ensuring she didn’t choke on her blood until paramedics arrived, is a homo. Karma really is a good thing. Update: Hernandez is making the media rounds; clips below.
As police search for a second man who may have worked with suspected shooter Jared Loughner (Update: The man has been cleared of any involvement), we’re learning more details about what happened immediately after Giffords and others were gunned down outside a Safeway during the congresswoman’s “Congress On Your Corner” event. And it was Hernandez, a twenty-year-old University of Arizona junior who served on the Tucson Commission on GLBT Issues, who rode with Giffords to the hospital, squeezing her hand the whole way there. The Arizona Republic reports:
When the shots began that morning, he saw many people lying on the ground, including a young girl. Some were bleeding. Hernandez said he moved from person to person checking pulses. “First the neck, then the wrist,” he said. One man was already dead. Then he saw Giffords. She had fallen and was lying contorted on the sidewalk. She was bleeding. Using his hand, Hernandez applied pressure to the entry wound on her forehead. He pulled her into his lap, holding her upright against him so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood. Giffords was conscious, but quiet.
Ron Barber, Giffords’ district director, was next to her. Hernandez told a bystander how to apply pressure to one of Barber’s wounds. Barber told Hernandez, “Make sure you stay with Gabby. Make sure you help Gabby.”
Hernandez used his hand to apply pressure until someone from inside Safeway brought him clean smocks from the meat department. He used them to apply pressure on the entrance wound, unaware there was an exit wound. He never let go of her. He stayed with Giffords until paramedics arrived. They strapped her to a board and loaded her into an ambulance. Hernandez climbed in with her. On the ride to the hospital, he held her hand. She squeezed his back. When they arrived at the hospital, Hernandez was soaked in blood. His family brought him clean clothes because the FBI took his for evidence.
Like many bystanders all over the country, Hernandez heard NPR’s report that Giffords had died — while he was in the hospital waiting on news of her recovery. But with her surgeon optimistic about her survival — as of this writing, she’s listed in critical condition — Hernandez says, “She’s definitely a fighter, whether for her own life, or standing up for people in southern Arizona.”
Hernandez’s Facebook wall is being plastered with notes of gratitude. “Good job for being so courageous <3," notes one. "Wow, you are incredible. I am so glad that you are alright and that you have done so much for everyone," adds another. And: "I saw you on the news im glad your safe friend. You are a true hero."
MSNBC interviews Hernandez:
CNN interviews Hernandez: