Sarasota man reunites with sheriff’s deputy who saved his life

ABC7 News at 11pm
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:57 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - On July 15 2022, Rafael Ayala Villalba was thrown from his motorbike in a traffic accident in Sarasota County. In what he thought would be his final moments of life, Villalba did not expect the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Deputy who rushed to his aide to be his literal life-saver.

That summer evening, Deputy Josh Snow arrived first on the scene at the intersection of Proctor Road and U.S. 41 where he discovered Villalba suffering from serious leg injuries. Without hesitation, Snow began applying a tourniquet while receiving assistance from an off-duty paramedic.

Following the accident, Villalba spent months at Sarasota Memorial Hospital undergoing surgeries that ultimately led to a hip disarticulation.

After discovering what his options were, Rafael got fitted for a proper prosthetic allowing him to start regaining mobility. Rafael’s can-do attitude and willingness to embrace new challenges has kept him thriving throughout his recovery process.

A few months prior, Villalba had seen Deputy Snow in a local newspaper where he had received an award for his life-saving actions. Excited that Deputy Snow was getting recognition, Rafael knew he wanted to eventually reach out and thank him.

On Thursday, March 16, the two men were reunited at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office along with Villalba’s family for an emotional meeting.

“Honestly I couldn’t believe this was going to be the day, the day I get to meet the man who saved my life,” Rafael said.

“Days like this make all the training, all the hard work, everything without a doubt worth it. It’s why we do it, to be able to save people’s lives,” concluded Deputy Snow.

The two plan to remain in each other’s lives after their meet-up. Rafael’s next goal is to take the bar exam and become a lawyer.