Quick-acting couple save bloodied neighbor

Quick-acting couple save bloodied neighbor

Shocked awake by a woman's guttural scream coming from their front hall, an off-duty Jackson County sheriff's deputy and his wife, a nurse, leapt into action, likely saving a woman's life early Sunday, Medford police said.

Michael Hermant, 38, heard the commotion, which he described as almost like the cries of an animal, inside his southwest Medford home just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday and found a woman lying face down in a puddle of blood in the entry hall. A man lay on her back with his arms around her neck, choking her, Hermant said.

"They were both really still," he said. "It wasn't like they were tumultuous or wrestling around."

Hermant, a 12-year veteran of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, said he grabbed the man and pinned him to the ground with his knee, while calling for his wife to bring him his duty belt loaded with his gun, handcuffs and other tools of his trade.

He handcuffed the man while his wife, Jessie Hermant, started bandaging and applying pressure to the weakened woman's badly bleeding wrist.

"My wife knew exactly what to do medically while I did the enforcement side," Michael Hermant said. "We're a pretty good team."

They called 9-1-1 and within minutes Medford police had arrived to take the man, Hugo Ernesto Gonzalez, 32, into custody. Medford police arrested Gonzalez on charges of attempted murder, first- and second-degree assault, and four counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, Jackson County Jail and court records show.

Investigators determined that Gonzalez and his wife had argued at their home on Sandstone Drive, then she had gone to bed.

A short time later, she awoke to a searing pain in her arm and found that she was bleeding heavily from a deep cut to her wrist. After a brief struggle with her husband, she ran to the Hermants, knowing that he worked in law enforcement, Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said.

Hermant said his assigned patrol car is parked in the driveway, but he had never met the woman who ran to his home for help. He had said hello to Gonzalez while mowing the lawn in the past, but didn't actually realize the couple locked in a potentially deadly struggle on the floor of his home were neighbors until after the pair had been whisked away.

Gonzalez was lodged in jail, where he remained Monday on $1 million bail after his arraignment.

The woman was rushed to an undisclosed local hospital where she underwent surgery for the deep cut, which cut through muscle and tendons all the way to the bone, police said.

"The quick actions of Deputy Hermant and his wife likely saved this woman's life," Hansen said.

Hermant said that his 17-year-old son, who also witnessed the bloody assault, was the last person home, arriving just after Hermant and his wife had gone to bed. The door either wasn't locked or was locked and pulled closed, but not latched, enabling the fleeing woman to crash into the house with her husband in pursuit.

"Everybody is extra nervous about keeping the door locked and keeping our eyes open," Hermant said. "It's a little shocking to have our home violated and we still have some blood to clean up."

However, he thinks most people would have stepped up to help the bleeding and exhausted woman.

"Anyone would have done this," he said. "I just had the training, as did my wife."

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail

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