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Tow truck driver hailed as hero for helping stabbed officer

WILLIAMS, California  - As a tow truck driver, Christian Melendrez is used to helping people on the side of the road, but Friday night he went above and beyond.

Driving down Interstate 5 just outside of Williams, Melendrez noticed an officer making a traffic stop.

"Think about it, I’m 70 mph when I passed by. It was quick," he told KTXL. "I saw two bodies on the ground wrestling and I thought, 'Oh, shoot, it’s probably the officer.'"

Without hesitation, he pulled over and rushed out of his truck.

“Why stop? I wanted to help. That’s what I do all the time with everybody and anybody," Melendrez said.

As Melendrez got closer, California Highway Patrol Officer Philip Martinson yelled that he had been stabbed in the back by the woman he had just pulled over.

Melendrez jumped in to help restrain the woman and take her into custody.

"First time I ever put handcuffs on anybody. So, that worked out pretty well," he said. "I was like, 'How do I put this on?' And he was like, 'Just swing it on.' So I swung it on there and it worked.”

Twenty-five-year-old Haile Neil was arrested on several charges, including attempted murder. The CHP says she was pulled over for driving more than 100 mph and she later appeared under the influence.

"As Officer Martinson was trying to conduct a DUI evaluation, the driver became belligerent and started running away," said CHP Williams Officer Franco Castillo.

She stabbed Officer Martinson with a concealed knife as he tried to take her into custody.

He was home recovering Tuesday and the CHP says that’s thanks to Melendrez stepping in.

“It’s pretty heroic," Castillo said. "It was something that he didn’t need to do but he did and we’re all grateful."

"What I did, I would do it again," Melendrez said. "Like I said, I would go and help again. My first instinct is to help people."

Melendrez said the whole experience inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement. The CHP is happy to help him in any way they can.

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