The event took place at 7:30 a.m. in the Doubletree’s grand ballroom, where 16 heroes and one K-9 police dog were awarded medals and plaques for their heroic deeds. Patterson’s mayor, Luis Molina was present to offer a grand handshake to Trinta, and was even part of the Heroes Selection Committee that chose the winners from the nominees.
Trinta escorted his wife, Amy, and 3-month old son, Travis, to the ceremony, where American Red Cross staff and volunteers warmly welcomed them.
Janet O, a general assignment reporter and Stanislaus County Bureau Chief for KCRA 3 News, introduced each hero through a series of video compilations that illustrated each of the honored guest’s actions and accomplishments.
Trinta was asked to recount the activities of that fateful day on July 11, 2012.
According to Trinta, Morganti was driving a Ford 7500 flatbed pickup, carrying nearly a ton of 50 lbs flammable sulfur bags, while Trinta rode behind in another truck.
As Morganti reached the intersection of Walnut and Sycamore Avenues, a 2005 Dodge pickup driving 60 to 70 mph in a 25 mph zone ran the stop sign, striking the Ford’s broadside with enough force to turn the vehicle 180 degrees, flip over and ignite the bags of sulfur, spreading a fire across Sycamore Avenue.
Randy, a former volunteer firefighter with the West Stanislaus Fire Protection District, was left unconscious in the driver’s seat, as Trinta watched from behind.
Trinta said he didn’t try to assess the situation or call the authorities when he witnessed the accident. Instead, he jumped out of his vehicle and ran towards the flames, noticing that Morganti’s body hung nearly lifeless inside the upside-down vehicle.
Trinta did not know at the time if Morganti was alive or dead, but tirelessly strove to get his body out of the burning wreckage, despite risking his own life to do so. Although Trinta feared that the sulfuric flames would reach the gas tank, he did not leave the site, and diligently worked to free his employee. After Trinta had a secure hold of Morganti, he began to drag the body nearly 60 yards from the flames.
West Stanislaus Fire Protection, Patterson Police and the Highway Patrol responded to the accident, and quickly called an air ambulance for Morganti, who suffered second-degree burns on his back and arms and a large laceration to his head. Trinta walked away with less than a scratch, but was burdened for his employee, who couldn’t return to work until April 2013.
Patterson Fire Chief Steve Hall arrived to the scene shortly after the initial dispatch and was impressed by Trinta’s determination and selflessness. Hall recognized Morganti as a volunteer firefighter from Crows Landing, and felt an even greater respect for Trinta’s ethics.
“Normally we pull others out of harms way, but in this instance, it was a bystander, Frank, who saved one of our own from harms way,” said Hall. “That is a very heroic nature and he did a great thing.”
Hall sought support from the local American Red Cross in order to nominate Trinta for the Workplace Hero for 2013.
Although Trinta was pleased that he was able to save Morganti’s life, he felt that being granted an award was “unnecessary.”
“I’m just glad that Randy is back, and everything is back to normal,” said Trinta.
Hall, as well as other community members, felt that Trinta’s actions surpassed any ordinary citizen’s expectations, and considerably felt that he deserved the recognition.
“He did something without taking his own life into consideration,” said Hall. “He did it because he knew that was what he needed to do. On behalf of the city, we are very proud of him and what he did. He makes a great recipient and is very deserving of the award.”
The tradition of recognizing community heroes began in 1994 with the American Red Cross Mount Rainer Chapter, and has now become a signature event throughout the country. The American Red Cross urges everyone to support selfless individuals, and looks to the public to nominate everyday heroes.
For more information about the American Red Cross and their services, visit www.redcross.org/capitalregion.
• Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or email@example.com.