Tim Leija always seems to be in the right place at the right time when people need help.
Example 1: Leija, a firefighter employed with the Arizona Department of Transportation since 2008, was traveling home to Glendale from the Grand Canyon after a 96-hour shift on a Saturday night in May when he saw sparks and dust ahead on the highway. As traffic slowed, Leija saw a crash had occurred and immediately pulled over and grabbed his medic bag.
Leija began assisting three people, two of whom had been ejected from the vehicle. He managed to keep them stable until the Phoenix police and fire department personnel arrived.
Example 2: In 2009, while watching one of his daughter’s basketball games at a local school he noticed smoke coming from across the street. After walking over to investigate, he discovered an apartment building on fire. Two girls came up to him and told him their father was still in the apartment. Leija crawled on his hands and knees into the apartment to find the man on a couch. He pulled the man out of the burning building and rendered assistance until the fire department arrived.
Example 3: Back in 2004, Leija was able to tackle a gunman who was waiting to ambush police officers near the area of 59th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, according to ADOT.
“It was just something I felt I had to do,” Leija said of the help he provided the accident victims earlier this year, a deed for which he received the ADOT Medal of Valor Award on July 19. He received a similar honor for his fire rescue work.
Leija, who lives in Glendale and works at Grand Canyon National Park Airport, “is a driving force and an inspiration to the rest of the guys,” said Mike Cockrum, the operations supervisor at the airport. “All of our guys are ready to answer the call for help whether on- or off-duty.”