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California Highway Patrol Officer To Be Honored For Saving Motorist From Ant Attack

TRACY (CBS13) — A California Highway Patrol officer saved a man from a life-threatening ant attack.

While officers know to expect the unexpected, the case Dan Garza responded to wasn't just unusual, it was almost unheard of.

"It ranks up there with the craziest ones," he said. "This is a first for me."

While on patrol on westbound Interstate 580, he came on a Southern California man named Didrick Johnck who was passing through Tracy on vacation with his family. Didrick had a blown-out tire and asked the officer to stick around on the shoulder and give him a little light.

But where Didrick was kneeling happened to be the home of some very angry ants.

"He came back to my patrol car and said, 'Hey officer, I'm sorry this is taking so long, but there's ants over here they're crawling up my leg,'" Garza said.

What seemed like a minor inconvenience on that June night nearly turned deadly.

"I saw him on the ground reaching out toward my patrol car," Garza said.

He says Didrick was crawling toward his patrol car, gasping for air.

"And I could see his eyes were glossed over and red, and at that moment I knew something wasn't right," he said.

The officer grabbed his first-aid kit for an oxygen mask to keep Didrick breathing after he passed out.

It turns out, the motorist had been bitten by fire ants about 100 times. He also happened to have an extremely rare allergic reaction and went into anaphylactic shock.

Weeks later, Garza got an emotional phone call from Didrick, who had fully recovered.

"He was thanking me for being there and saving his life, and said if I hadn't been there, he probably would've died," he said.

Didrick, who is currently in Asia, wasn't available to talk to CBS13. He told Garza he's been all over the world for his work as a photographer and been bitten by many insects. But none gave him the reaction he had that night.

The CHP says Garza will be honored for saving the man's life.

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