NEW: FHP honors driver who lifted car, helped save trooper hit on I-95


When Jose Antonio Rodriguez lifted a Ford Focus off a Florida Highway Patrol trooper that October morning, the 1-ton vehicle felt to him like it weighed 2 pounds.

Rodriguez was driving north on Interstate 95 with his wife and stepson on Oct. 1 when he saw the car strike Trooper Andy Ong at a spot near the Hypoluxo Road exit in Lantana. A crowd had formed along the shoulder of the highway, but nobody was acting.

“I ran and said, ‘I’m the only one who can lift the car up.’ I don’t know how I knew,” said Rodriguez, 44, a metal artist who lives in the Boca Raton area.

Rodriguez said that when he returned to his car, his hands were bloody and he felt drained. More importantly, he did not know if the man who was previously pinned under the car was going to make it.

Two months later, Rodriguez was honored Thursday morning at the Palm Beach County Police Benevolence Association Hall for his role in saving Ong’s life — and Ong himself was there to thank him.

Ong, 51, is still recovering, having left Delray Medical Center on Nov. 10. He is struggling to speak because most of his injuries were facial, said Sgt. Mark Wysocky, FHP spokesman. But he sat in the audience in street clothes and rose to stand with Rodriguez as he was honored.

On the morning of the crash, Ong — a trooper for more than 12 years — was patrolling Interstate 95 near Hypoluxo Road. He had been standing on a shoulder of the highway near the back of his patrol car, clocking the speed of passing cars, when the driver of a Honda Civic changed lanes and hit the Ford Focus, FHP has said. The Ford then crashed into both Ong and his car.

The drivers of the Ford and the Honda both sustained minor injuries. No charges have been filed in the crash as of Thursday, Wysocky said Thursday.

Ong’s wife, Lisa Santana-Ong, set up a GoFundMe page online to raise money to help pay for the trooper’s medical expenses. As of Thursday afternoon, the page had raised $8,245 of its $75,000 goal and had donations from 111 people.

Rodriguez, who said he grew up in the West Palm Beach area, said that prior to Thursday’s event, he and Ong had tried several times to meet with each other but could not get their schedules to match, given Ong’s frequent hospital visits.

“It was all so surreal. … It still is,” Rodriguez said, adding, “I had his life in my hands.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Spirit Ride shows up in West Palm, Boynton with directive for drivers
Spirit Ride shows up in West Palm, Boynton with directive for drivers

The life of Woodson Metellus, then 18, was forever changed when his father, Arnold Metellus, a 59-year-old Haitian immigrant who lived in Boynton Beach and worked as a Road Ranger, was standing next to a disabled vehicle at 1 a.m., Oct. 26, 2014 near the Palmetto Park Road exit northbound Interstate 95 In one moment he was a hard-working husband, and...
Nina and Pinta replicas dock at Harbourside Place
Nina and Pinta replicas dock at Harbourside Place

It was a calm morning at the Harbourside Place dock where two huge wooden ships sat. A small crew was quickly tying knots, adjusting sails and setting up for visitors that were expected to arrive soon. Carved in the back of the 85-foot, black colored ship was the word “Pinta” and in front was the Nina — a 65-foot beauty. These two...
Boynton to buy programs to improve garbage pick up, 911 dispatch
Boynton to buy programs to improve garbage pick up, 911 dispatch

Residents could notice an improvement in the city’s 911 dispatch and garbage pick-up services following the City Commission’s approval this week for staff to buy upgraded programs for both. The city’s dispatch program now requires call-takers to ask irrelevant information and provides instructions for...
 NEW: Authorities arrest 14 migrants near Singer Island
 NEW: Authorities arrest 14 migrants near Singer Island

Authorities arrested 14 migrants who attempted to come ashore Thursday night near Singer Island.  The situation unfolded at about 10:30 p.m. Those taken into custody included seven Haitians, four Bolivians and three Chinese, Homeland Security spokesman Nestor Yglesias said.  No other details were disclosed as the incident remains under investigation...
Immunotherapy plus chemo doubles lung cancer survival, study says
Immunotherapy plus chemo doubles lung cancer survival, study says

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for lung cancer. However, immunotherapy may be able to help double a patient’s survival, according to a new report. Researchers from New York University’s Perlmutter Cancer Center recently conducted a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, to determine which treatments...
More Stories