LOS BANOS — Carlos Iniguez earned the highest recognition from the U.S. postmaster general last week, for helping a woman who fell and broke her hip.
Iniguez, who lives in Los Banos, began to shed tears while coworkers, family and friends gathered Jan. 17 at the post office, where he received a letter from the postmaster general, thanking him for his heroism.
“I was surprised,” he said. “It’s an honor. “It’s the most beautiful thing that could happen.”
It was just an average day in October when Iniguez was working his route. Iniguez knew something was wrong when he heard crying coming from the home of Frances Silva, 89. She had fallen in her home and was alone.
“The garage was open and I just heard, ‘Help me, help me,’ ” he said. Iniguez has been delivering Silva’s mail for eight years.
Silva spent the early part of the morning getting her hair done at the salon. But upon returning home, she tripped over a rug and fell. She crawled to a nearby chair and cried for help for hours, family members said.
“I went through her garage,” Iniguez explained. “I was a little nervous. She was already stressed out and I kept her calm. … I told her everything’s going to be OK.”
Silva didn’t want Iniguez to call 911 so he contacted her two sons.
“We were so grateful,” said Janet Silva, Francis Silva’s daughter-in-law. “Carlos took the time to make a difference.”
Frances Silva spent some time in the hospital, where she had corrective hip surgery. She was unable to speak at last week’s ceremony but expressed her appreciation for Iniguez through many hugs.
“People say I was a hero…” Iniguez said, “I was just doing my job.”
Augustine Ruiz, corporate communications manager for the U.S. Postal Service, said Iniguez’s actions were heroic and the recognition was well-deserving.
“He got a personal letter addressed to him from the postmaster general thanking him for not only delivering his mail but also doing the other informal thing that most carriers do on their own,” Ruiz said, “and that is to keep their eyes and ears open in the neighborhoods that they serve. ... They know their neighborhood so well that they know when something is wrong.”
Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.