Actor Danny Trejo is best known as a villain in numerous movies and TV shows, but in real life, the 75-year-old is much different than his onscreen persona.
On Wednesday, Trejo was in the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles when he witnessed a car crash that caused one vehicle to overturn. Trejo rushed to help a child that was in the overturned vehicle strapped to a car seat. CNN reported that Trejo at first tried to crawl through one of the vehicle’s broken windows but was unable to unhook the seat belt holding the child seat. Another bystander, Monica Jackson, helped him and the two were able to save the child. The child’s grandmother was still trapped in the driver’s seat, but firefighters were able to rescue her using special equipment.
Security footage shows Trejo rushing to the overturned vehicle as one of the first people on the scene.
ABC7 reporter Veronica Miracle reported that the child was special needs and Trejo “distracted the boy until grandma was OK.”
Trejo told reporters at the scene that he works with special-needs children and knew what to do to calm the child.
“He was panicked. I said, ‘OK, we have to use our superpowers.’ So, he screamed ‘superpowers’ and we started yelling ‘superpowers,'” Trejo said, according to ABC7. “I said do this, with the muscles. He said ‘muscles.'”
“We got kind of a bond. I kept facing him away from the accident,” Trejo added.
He later told a photographer at the scene that “The only thing that saved the little kid was his car seat.”
“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else,” Trejo told ABC7. “Everything.”
Trejo has not always been a Hollywood actor. He spent an entire decade in and out of prison when he was a teenager and said he started smoking marijuana when he was just 8 years old. He has been sober for more than 40 years since his last prison sentence. After he was out, he began working as a youth drug counselor and was asked by a patient to help with drug problems on a movie set. Trejo’s menacing appearance landed him a job as an extra in the film.
The movie’s screenwriter recognized Trejo from prison — where Trejo became a boxer. The screenwriter hired Trejo to train one of the stars of the film. From there he was offered another small part in another movie and the rest is history.
Outside of his film career, Trejo owns several successful restaurants: Trejo’s Tacos, Trejo’s Cantina, and Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts. He also still helps kids avoid drugs and alcohol, using his own life as an example.