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CHP Recognizes Deputy, Heroic Good Samaritan
Good Samaritan John Phelps, left, and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Saul McNaul received certificates of recognition for their heroic act in helping save Steven Riggs’ life, posing here with his wife, Elizabeth. Brooke Chau/The Leader


This past Father’s Day – June 21, 2020 – was a life-changing day for Steven Riggs; it was, in fact, a day he nearly lost his life.

Involved in a rollover traffic accident along Highway 120 near Knights Ferry on that Sunday afternoon, Riggs’ vehicle left the roadway. His pick-up truck became engulfed in flames in a grassy field with Riggs trapped inside.

That’s when a Good Samaritan, John Phelps, and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Saul McNaul jumped into action.

Riggs likely would have lost his life if it was not for the heroic actions of Phelps and Deputy McNaul. The Good Samaritan and the deputy ran towards the overturned pick-up truck as flames started to erupt. With literally seconds to spare, the two men broke through the glass and pulled Riggs out of his truck to safety.

Beverly Riggs, Steven Riggs’ wife, was in attendance as the California Highway Patrol hosted a press conference at the Modesto CHP Office on Tuesday morning, June 30. She was moved to tears and filled with gratitude as she embraced both Phelps and McNaul. Her husband, meanwhile, is expected to make a full recovery and is doing well.

The CHP had previously put out requests for information on the Good Samaritan and ultimately released dramatic video of the rescue, hoping to make contact with the man who helped the deputy so each of them could be honored.

On Tuesday, both Phelps and McNaul received certificates of recognition for their heroic and selfless act on behalf of the CHP and District 10 representative, Josh Harder. CHP officials said they will also be submitting both men as nominees for recognition by the American Red Cross for saving Riggs’ life. 

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Elizabeth Riggs, Steven Riggs’ wife, meets her husband’s rescuers for the first time. Here she embraces John Phelps at a recognition ceremony hosted by the CHP in Modesto Brooke Chau/The Leader