On Jan. 5, 2015, Hollie Bowers was driving home from school on State Route 91 when she spotted a driver who appeared to be drunk coming up behind her. Just as she began to dial 911, she had to swerve into another lane to avoid being hit.
A few moments later, she watched as the driver hit a motorcyclist and sent him flying into the air. Bowers slammed on her brakes to avoid running the man over.
Rather than continuing to drive or simply being a witness, Bowers decided to assist the man until the paramedics arrived.
Bowers’ actions that day earned her the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Courageous Citizen Award, which District Attorney Jackie Lacey presents to her in a ceremony later today.
Bowers, a senior majoring in public relations, is among four Southern California residents to be honored for their acts of selflessness this year, who are nominated by deputy district attorneys and selected by a committee.
“Ms. Bowers was chosen for her immediate response to someone in need,” said Sarah Ardalani, a public information officer for the DA’s office. “She remained with the victim during the whole incident, was willing to testify in court and served as a support for the victim’s wife from the time of the crime to the sentencing hearing.”
For Bowers, however, her actions that day were not motivated by a desire to appear heroic.
“[Helping him] was my first instinct,” Bowers said. “I didn’t think twice about it. My first instinct was to be with him and talk to him because I wouldn’t want to be alone.”
When the motorcyclist, Jerry Frey, was hit, Bowers ran to him and started asking him questions to keep him awake until the paramedics arrived. She called his wife to inform her of the accident and to ask questions about his insurance.
“I told him over and over that I would not leave him,” Bowers said. “I held his hand and he squeezed mine out of pain.”
When the paramedics arrived, Bowers made sure to stay with Frey until he was taken to the hospital.
However, 17 days after the accident, Frey passed away — a fact that Bowers said was difficult to process.
“Hearing that he passed away made my heart ache for his family,” Bowers said, “[The award] is bittersweet but it is an honor.”
Bianca McCovy, Bowers’ boss at Icon Plaza, said that Bowers exhibits courage not just in high-profile cases such as the accident that she witnessed, but in her everyday life.
“When she found a resident passed out in an elevator room, Hollie immediately contacted the proper authorities and stayed with the resident until the authorities arrived,” McCovy said. “The resident later stated how glad she was that Hollie had acted so quickly and calmly during that situation. Hollie is a person that our residents and staff count on to do the right thing.”
Despite these assessments by those who know her, however, Bowers continued to insist that she was simply doing what was necessary — but that now, she places a greater value on the meaning of courage when making decisions.
“I never thought about what I did as courageous,” Bowers said. “I thought it was just something that should be done. Reflecting on this award and what it means in my life, I think it has redefined the word ‘courage’ for me and made it something that is of huge value.”