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Diversion Candidate Saves Stranger's Life

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Cody Lee saves stranger lapel screenshot

Cody Lee, 27, of Española, performed CPR April 17 on Carr Lane when he heard people calling for help. He revived Andrew Koehler, 30, of Illinois, who was not breathing and unresponsive when Española Police Department Sgt. George Martinez arrived.

Cody Lee, 27, of Española is not the kind of superhero one would expect, he lives mostly on the streets of Española, and he’ll freely admit he struggles with addiction, but that did not stop him from doing what superheroes do: He saved a stranger’s life.

Lee was arrested by former police chief Louis Carlos March 6, on orders from Municipal Court Judge Stephen Salazar. The incident, which included Lee being pulled in handcuffs from the back of a police car and taken to the ground, was ruled an appropriate use of force by Department Deputy Chief Roger Jimenez. Lee’s attorney, Sheri Raphaelson, said the incident was an abuse of power.

Española Police Department Sgt. George Martinez said he was dispatched to a call of a possible overdose on Carr Lane April 17, and when he arrived, he found a man lying on the ground.

The man was not breathing. His eyes had rolled back in his head, and the few people that had been near the man scattered when Martinez arrived. Except one, Cody Lee.

Lee stayed with the man, later identified as Andrew Koehler, 30, of Illinois.

“When I got there, I saw this guy giving CPR,” Martinez said. “He saved his life.”

Koehler was lifeless when Martinez arrived and asked Lee how long he had been administering CPR. Lee told him maybe 5-10 minutes, but he wasn’t exactly sure.

Lapel video captured by Martinez showed Lee carefully administering chest compressions, and using a mouth-to-mouth air technique on the stranger’s lifeless figure.

Finally, Koehler began breathing on his own, slowly at first, but then he began to regain consciousness.

“Do you know where you are?” Martinez asked him.

Koehler first told Martinez he was in Los Alamos, but as the minutes passed and he regained full awareness of his surroundings, he realized he was in Española.

Lee told Martinez he had been nearby when he heard someone call for help, and so he came to help the stranger.

He told Martinez he had administered Narcan, and then began the CPR, which Martinez said saved Koehler’s life. Martinez said he had never met Lee before, and it was not until afterward that he realized Lee was the same person who Carlos arrested in March.

“For him to do that for a complete stranger, I was really impressed,” Martinez said in an April 26 interview. “I wanted Cody (Lee) to stay and get checked out by the medics, but once he saw the guy was OK, he just left.”

Lee said in an April 28 interview it was not the first time he administered Narcan or CPR to try and save someone’s life, and that he would do it again. He said he had never met Koehler before, but was glad he was able to help him out.

He has been trying to improve his life of late, and recently requested help from the ReRoute program, which is designed to help people in his position through intensive case management.

Española Matanza Board President Ralph Martinez said he was not surprised to hear that Lee did all he could to help a stranger. Martinez, who previously lived on the streets of Española and faced his own struggles with addiction, said he understood the situation in which Lee found himself.

“I’ve seen individuals overdose with my own two eyes and I’ve also seen people scatter when it happens,” Martinez said. “To do the right thing in that situation takes a lot of courage. I commend Cody Lee for not only having that courage but for thinking fast, that courage and that fast thinking saved somebody’s life!”

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