Soccer players try to help man in fire

The courage of two freshman Fresno Pacific University soccer players does not surprise their coach. “They actions they took speak to who they are,” Jaime Ramirez said of Eric Velarde and Edilberto “Eddie” Cabral.

The two freshmen were running on the FPU track March 1 when Velarde saw smoke coming from a senior citizens apartment center on Willow Avenue south of campus. Both jumped the fence between FPU and the center and Velarde went to get help from a utilities employee working nearby while Cabral went to the apartment that was on fire.

“A lady was yelling that a man was inside, so I kicked in the door,” Cabral said.

Cabral cut his calf in two places and later received stitches at the hospital. He will be on crutches for six weeks.

Returning with the utilities worker, Velarde saw how Cabral was bleeding and carried his friend to safety. Meanwhile, the worker aided the resident, who was listed in serious condition later that day.

Ramirez has known both players since they were freshmen in high school. “They are two of the most remarkable young men I have on the team,” he said.

Velarde is a graduate of Reedley High School and Cabral of Sunnyside High School in Fresno. Neither feels like a hero. “I feel like I could have done more,” Cabral said.

From left: Velarde and Cabral

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