CHICAGO (CBS) — On Jan. 8, six people were killed, and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was critically wounded in during a “Congress on Your Corner” event in Tucson.
On Friday, the man credited with saving Giffords’ life that day is in Chicago.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Giffords’ aide, Daniel Hernandez Jr., was five days into his job when he was thrown into a life-saving task. Now he is being hailed as a hero.
On that Saturday morning, shots rang out during the event outside a Safeway grocery store.
“I really didn’t have all that much going through my mind except for, ‘I need to go and help those who have possibly been injured,’” Hernandez said.
Hernandez, a 21-year-old college student, recalled the panic he felt.
“She was still alive, she was still alert, she was still trying to communicate,” Hernandez said. “So she became my first priority because of the severity of her wounds, and the fact she was still alive.”
Hernandez moved his way toward Gifford, and propped her head against his chest to prevent her from swallowing her own blood.
How did he know how to do that? In high school, Hernandez received phlebotomy training.
“I think what happened on that day will be something that everyone who was immediately in that area – everyone who was in Tucson, at least – will remember for the rest of their lives,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s something that will definitely be something that I carry with me, but it’s no longer whether or not it will haunt me, but it’s using what happened on that day to help myself and others move forward.”
Hernandez says since the shootings, he has been giving Giffords space to recover, but has been in constant touch with her family.
On Saturday, he will be honored at a conference at the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute. The ceremony will take place around noon at the Sheraton Hotel, 401 E. North Water St.