Early one April morning, Estes Elementary School students Julian Rodriguez and William “Blueboy” Estrella were walking to school, just like they do together most days.

Estrella and Rodriguez could hear a faint sound of a man calling for help – both were a little skeptical, which turned to nervousness when they saw a man, Ed Baltierra, lying in his front yard. His face was lying in a pool of blood that came from his broken nose and broken teeth. Baltierra had fallen when he tripped over rocks in his front yard and had been lying there for a couple of hours.

“I was nervous because at first I didn’t know what to do,” Estrella said. 

Rodriguez shared a similar feeling, not knowing what the outcome would be simply by looking at a man who was in need of help.

“My stomach kind of twisted thinking if I don’t save him, he might die,” Rodriguez said. “If we do save him, what will happen? Mainly, what was going through my mind was if he was going to make it or not and I was kind of panicking.”

After the initial shock of the situation, the two broke off from each other. Estrella ran to the nearby Northwest Fire station, while Rodriguez went in search of the man’s wife.

A short time later, the boys met back up at Baltierra’s house. The fire department arrived shortly after and so did Baltierra’s wife.

“And then we walked to school and made it on time,” Rodriguez said.

But at the time, the two boys didn’t know he had been lying there, trying to get help for a couple of hours. 

“I feel sad for the people who didn’t help, because he could have gotten help earlier and been better,” Rodriguez said.

Earlier this month, the Northwest Fire District recognized the two sixth-graders for their actions with an assembly with the rest of the students at their school.

Each got a framed Good Citizen Award with their names on them.

Again, both the boys were nervous. This time it was because they had to get up on stage in front of the entire school to receive their awards.

For obvious reasons, the boys’ parents were very proud of them – taking them out to dinners and bought them a new pair of shoes.

Estrella’s father, William Blue Estrella, who is a firefighter with Tohono O’odham National Fire Department, we very proud of his son and his friend and felt honored they were recognized.

“We teach him to make sure he is helping people, to be respectful and to make sure he is helping people who are less fortunate or just need help,” Estrella said. “I wasn’t surprised that he stepped up and did what was necessary and that’s what we taught him.”

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