Islander Receives City Commendation for Heroic Actions During Spring Break Accident

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Islander Jacqueline Paveglio, a member of the 2018 Islander soccer team, was one of three college students who were recognized for their heroic actions by Corpus Christi Fire Department Chief Robert Rocha at an awards ceremony on Friday, May 17, at CCFD Headquarters.

Paveglio, along with friends Jake Simms, a student at St. Mary’s University, and Zach Cuellar, a student at Texas A&M University, received the Citizens Commendation of Merit for their actions following a rollover accident on the John F. Kennedy Memorial Causeway near Red Dot Pier on March 10 during Spring Break. 

A freshman at the time of the incident, Paveglio was returning to campus following a day at the beach with six of her friends, including roommate and fellow 2018 soccer team player Carson Nesloney. The students were in a car behind a refurbished 1926 Ford vehicle when the driver of the Ford lost control. The vehicle flipped over three times, ejecting the male driver before the car ended up on its side on top of him.

Paveglio said the students stopped to help, and with the help of other bystanders, were able to flip the vehicle over onto its wheels in an effort to free the driver. The students then remained on scene to offer their support to the female passenger even after emergency response crews had arrived.

“The three students – Jacqueline, Jake, and Zach – stuck around and stayed with the woman,” said Jim DeVisser, CCFD Battalion Chief/AERO Team Coordinator. “I started to work with the driver because he was the most severely injured of the two but the students stayed and started talking to the wife and answered her questions the best that they could. They provided moral support and comfort.”

Dr. Kelly M. Quintanilla, President and CEO of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said Paveglio’s good deed brought comfort to the accident victim and made a terrible situation a little brighter. 

“We are extremely grateful to the Corpus Christi Fire Department for recognizing Jacqueline and her friends for their heroic actions, initiative, and leadership at the scene of the accident. Jacqueline demonstrates what it means to make an Islander Impact. We’re proud to call Jacqueline a part of our Islander family and we commend her for answering the call to be a Good Samaritan,” Quintanilla said.

Paveglio said the incident prompted the student group to assess the gravity of the situation during an otherwise festive time of the year. 

“It was really eye-opening to realize that life is so short, and anything can happen to us. The couple never thought that could happen to them while they were driving to their destination,” Paveglio said. “I know the experience opened Carson’s eyes to the more of the spiritual view, too, as she prayed over the woman who was injured in the accident. God put us in that place at that time, so we would learn something deeper about life and to help these people; it was all part of our plan to be there.”

DeVisser, who submitted the commendation request for the three students, praised the trio and their friends for providing aid.

 “These students made a conscious effort to stop and help this couple,” he said. “I would like to think that these students represent college students as a whole and this bodes well for us in the future.”

Additional Information

The City of Corpus Christi Fire Department recognized a total of seven citizens and 11 firefighters at its annual ceremony. For additional details, read the City’s news release.