Torrance resident Connie Jackson has been honored this holiday season for a giving the gift of life.
The California Highway Patrol credits Jackson, a registered nurse and the wife of Torrance City Manager LeRoy Jackson, with saving the life of a young Costa Mesa woman who was severely injured in a traffic accident last summer.
The Jacksons and two of their children were returning to the South Bay from Sacramento at 1 a.m. on Aug. 28 when they encountered a frightening scene on a lonely stretch of Interstate 5 in Kern County.
A car had rolled over several times, sending a young passenger flying across the center divider. She came to rest in the fast lane of the freeway.
When the Jacksons arrived, the woman was lying lifeless on the pavement.
"It was a bloody mess," Connie Jackson recalled. "The woman's heart had stopped and she wasn't breathing."
Stretched out in the middle of the freeway, Jackson administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Miraculously, the woman's heart began beating and she started breathing again.
For 45 minutes, the Jacksons waited for an ambulance, along with other motorists and the truckers who helped slow traffic.
"That siren was the most beautiful sound in the world," Jackson said.
Next week, the young woman, having recovered from her injuries, will celebrate her 22nd birthday. And Jackson will have some special presents under the Christmas tree. Highway Patrol officers last week gave her their Community Service Award, and the Torrance Council presented the city's Citizen Award of Valor for heroism.
Jackson said it shows that "one small person can make a very big difference."