Skip to main content

Hero Recalls Off-Duty Rescue

Just over a year ago, Eva Telles was rushing back to the Triangle to move everything she owned into a new home, a hard afternoon’s work on her day off as an NC State police officer. She was running a little late from her visit with friends in Greenville, and forecasters were calling for snow.

She was in a hurry to get everything done. She had no idea she had time to save someone’s life.

Traveling west on U.S. 264, near the small town of Bailey, N.C., Telles noticed that the 22-foot trailer being pulled by the pickup truck in front of her was fishtailing badly, almost out of control. In an instant, the truck was off the road and rolling over on its side.

Chancellor Randy Woodson congratulates Eva Telles.
Chancellor Randy Woodson congratulates Eva Telles.

That’s when Telles’ instincts took over. She and another passerby jumped out of their cars, with Telles calling 911 as she ran toward trouble. The doors were jammed, and Dana Clayton Brooks was trapped inside.

Almost at the same time, Telles and the other good Samaritan said, “This truck could go up in flames.”

They hastily pulled Brooks out of the passenger-side window, and within seconds the engine block caught fire, engulfing the truck in flames.

As an unharmed Brooks kissed the ground and said “This is why I pray every day,” Telles absorbed what a close call she had just experienced.

Be Prepared

A native of Voorhees, N.J., Telles was trained for emergencies while enrolled at the North Carolina Highway Patrol Academy. She spent two years on patrol before coming to the NC State police department nearly six years ago.

award for excellence-300
Telles is the first NC State employee to receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence for Safety and Heroism.

She never really expected to be in highway emergencies while working for the university, but if she learned anything from her crisis intervention training, it was to be prepared for anything during a 12-hour shift. And when she was off duty.

“We prepare by training and then when you are in a crisis situation, you just react,” Telles said.

Last fall, Telles received a Governor’s Award for Excellence for Safety and Heroism for her swift reaction on that cold winter’s day. Since 2006, only six previous NC State employees have won Awards for Excellence. None of the previous award winners was for safety and heroism.

Career Highlight

Winning the award was the highlight of a career that has been spent on campus, a job that has its own rewards.

“I love working here at NC State,” Telles said. “I have the chance to work with younger adults and we get to do a little bit of everything. It’s more of a hands-on involvement, more of a sense of community. I enjoy getting to know the students and watching them as they grow up during their time here.”

But, when needed, Telles is prepared for a split-second, life-saving reaction.