Jacob Lopez received a standing ovation last night when Oregon City Council commended him for his efforts Dec. 30 to keep a drunken driver off the road.
The suspected drunken driver, Michael Gagnon, 24, arrived about 10:50 p.m. that night at the Taco Bell in Oregon, where Mr. Lopez, 22, was working.
Mr. Gagnon pulled up in a Ford F-350 truck to Mr. Lopez's drive-through window about eight minutes before crashing into a van on I-280 and killing five of the eight people inside, including an 8-week-old baby.
Records show Mr. Gagnon had a blood-alcohol level of 0.254 percent during the crash, more than three times the legal limit.
When Mr. Gagnon pulled up that night, slurring his words and making little sense, Mr. Lopez called 911. Police arrived at the restaurant too late to stop Mr. Gagnon.
Although the outcome isn't what he wanted, Mr. Lopez was honored as a hero by several public figures.
Lucas County Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter said the result that evening wasn't the point.
"He's a distinguished citizen," he said of Mr. Lopez.
"Far too often, we recognize people only after they've made a difference and did something. Here's somebody who tried to make a difference. It was unfortunate what happened, but you have to give him credit for being involved," he said.
Mr. Quilter presented Mr. Lopez with a certificate and a Lucas County lapel pin.
Oregon Mayor Marge Brown gave him a certificate and a gift box, which he didn't open at the meeting.
Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the Lucas County commissioners, gave him a proclamation signed by all three county commissioners.
"On behalf of the board of county commissioners, we want to recognize you for an excellent example of outstanding citizenship," Ms. Wozniak said. "This is a young man who did the right thing in a difficult situation."
Tana Schiewer, executive director of the Oregon Community and Family Coalition, also honored Mr. Lopez's efforts. He is her organization's first Positive Choice Award recipient.
Mr. Lopez, his family, and co-workers who attended chose not to speak or do any interviews.
He lives in Oregon with his wife, Candy, and their three children, Nicholas, 2; Ayden, 2, and Jesse, 11 weeks.