It was already dark out as Amanda Cesare approached the Q Bridge driving home to from work on Feb. 27.
As Cesare approached the I-91 and I-95 split, the driver of the large truck directly in front of her laid on her horn — for a solid 15 seconds.
And then, suddenly: movement up ahead, a sound of a crash and glass popping underneath her tires. The truck in front her slowed, stopped and then pulled over.
"The lady ran out in front of her truck," Cesare told East Haven Patch during a recent interview at her family's Felicia Drive home.
Cesare did the same: she slowed, safely pulled over to the side and ran out of her car — and then, for some reason, she continued running, making a beeline directly to the mangled sedan that had crashed, flipped and now sat in front of her a mess of ripped metal, plastic and steel.
There was no ambulance or EMS responders at the scene yet. Even the police had not yet arrived.
But Cesare, who had recently completed her Emergency Situation CPR for Adults & Children certification as part of her medical assistant training, moved in to quickly assess the situation.
"The first thing I saw was the little boy," she said. "And I examined him and made sure that he didn't have any serious injuries."
Cesare said as she examined the boy he appeared not to have sustained any serious injuries. And he told her that he was OK.
"Just please save my daddy," he said to Cesare.
'He's Not Breathing'
The former East Haven High School ran back to her car to get a flashlight.
As she was returning to the crash scene, Cesare noticed that a second car had stopped. And the passengers in that vehicle appeared to be family or friends of the boy and his father.
And they must have been traveling behind with the two before the crash, Cesare said.
"I heard them say, 'Oh no, he's not breathing,'" she said.
Cesare quickly moved into the wrecked vehicle.
"I climbed in and I put the flashlight on his face," she said, adding that she noticed immediately that the man was seriously injured. "And I saw that his chest was rising up and down."
Cesare added that she still can see the image of the boy's father, whose body was twisted with injury, and covered with mud, dust and debris due to the crash.
Cesare said she attempted to communicate with the father, asking him if he could hear her, because he appeared to be on the borderline of being in and out of consciousness.
It was difficult to tell if he gave her a clear signal or not — because his body was involuntarily twitching at times due to his injuries — but Cesare said she is fairly certain the father did signal to her that he was still awake.
Don't Move Him
As she began to remove herself from the vehicle, the passengers in the second vehicle, clearly distraught, began to urge Cesare to her pull the boy's father out of the wrecked car.
But due to her medical and emergency training, Cesare knew that that could make the man's already critical situation far worse.
"'No," I told them. 'You can't, you're not supposed to move him,'" she said.
"You could stop or snap something," she said.
There was some language barrier — as the man's family and/or friends spoke Spanish — but Cesare said she was able to convince them not to pull him out of the car.
And that alone, the fact that she was able to prevent his removal from the vehicle, may have prevented further injuries to a man clearly hanging in the balance.
Is He OK?
At that point, the state police and EMS arrived on the scene. And Cesare said the state trooper commended her for her work. And she stepped backed and allowed the first responders to do their work.
Her only regret: not knowing if the boy's father survived the crash or not.
"I checked the papers and online for days," Cesare said, adding that she even had difficulty sleeping for a time afterwards — because she simply does not know what happened.
"When I first saw the boy at the accident, he asked me to save his daddy," she said.
"And I'm always wondering: Did I help save his daddy or not?"
Stepping Forward: A Second Time
The next day, Cesare was at Brandford Hall, where she's taking her medical training courses. She was enjoying the opportunity to share the previous night's events with her classmates and teachers.
"They were all teasing me saying; 'Oh, now you're a hero,'" Cesare said with a laugh.
And as she was leaving for the day and heading up to the parking lot to her car, she noticed a man in the lot making a series of strange and sudden movements.
"And then, he fell to the ground and began to repeatedly bang his head on the curb," Cesare said.
Once again, Cesare found herself rushing ahead to help a stranger in medical distress. She moved in quickly — and took control of the situation.
"I told the other students for someone to call 911 and to also get a teacher," she said.
Thankfully, Cesare was able to prevent the man from causing further injury to himself as the seizure came to an end.
Cesare said the man was bleeding from his head due a minor injury, but thankfully, that was the extent of his injuries.
"This time, I knew he was going to be fine," she said.
'This Is Your Calling'
Following both events, Cesare said family, friends, fellow students and teachers began to encourage her to continue to move forward in her medical training.
"Everybody was telling me: 'This is your calling,'" she said.
And so, Cesare is now considering continuing her education and training beyond that of a certified medical assistant — all the way to become a registered nurse.
"I used to be squeemish of blood," she said.
"And now, I just want to get as many certifications as I can."