ROLANDO STEVEN LOPOUA

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“I used to be an ironworker,” Rolando Steven Lopoua says. “Before, I could do things myself, but now, I have to ask for help. I don’t like that.” He was the sort of person who took care of others. That day at the beach, he led his siblings into the ocean to play and swim. That’s when he saw people panicking. He was trying to help a German woman escape with them when he heard a cry, as she was hit. “I ran to help her and that’s when I was hit. I fell just next to her. I wanted to grab her hand so we could flee, but I couldn’t find it. I was bleeding all over.” She didn’t survive, and he almost didn’t. “Before putting me on the stretcher, they put a cloth over me. They thought I was already dead. I was choking under the cloth.” He cried out for his father and the first responders realized he was alive. He then lost consciousness. When he awoke, they had amputated his leg. He struggles with survivor’s guilt. “I don’t deserve it, but maybe I am here to do something else? I couldn’t save her life but maybe I can save other lives.”

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