Three vehicles box in moving car after driver suffers massive heart attack, saving woman's life and preventing possible traffic carnage By Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun July 23, 2011
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Motorists+pull+amazing+rescue+Highway/5148800/story.html#ixzz1SxDmwOlHA 44-year-old Langley woman was in critical condition Friday after suffering a heart attack while driving on Highway 1 on Thursday, resulting in a high-speed rescue by other motorists that has astonished police.
"It's amazing, really amazing what they did," said RCMP "E" Division spokeswoman Cpl. Annie Linteau of the quick-thinking motorists who pulled off a stunt that is usually the stuff of Hollywood make-believe.
Not only did they rescue the mother of three, they prevented a car from running out of control in the westbound lane of the highway during rush hour - a potential calamity that could well have resulted in loss of life.
One of the rescuers - Burnaby salesman Courtney Smith - risked his life to save the woman, said Linteau.
"Mr. Smith displayed an enormous amount of bravery," she said.
The sequence of events began shortly after 8: 30 a.m. as Smith, 40, who works for Laser Valley Printing, was on his way into Vancouver driving his Kia Sedona minivan near the Brunette Avenue exit in Coquitlam.
He was driving the speed limit in the middle lane when he saw a black Volkswagen veer to the left ahead of him from the centre lane into the HOV lane, narrowly missing a Ferrari.
"The Volkswagen was driving straight, then all of a sudden it went to the left, just missing the Ferrari, and was bouncing along against the [median] barrier," Smith said.
The Ferrari slowed, but Smith watched as a black Jeep with two men inside pulled alongside the Volkswagen, keeping pace with it.
Travelling in the Jeep were two Surrey business administration students Harvey Sahsi, 22, and Ibsan Islam, 24, who were on their way to BCIT.
Sahsi, who was driving, said as he came alongside the Volkswagen he saw the driver was unconscious.
"I just stayed beside her to make sure she didn't come back into traffic," said Sahsi.
Meanwhile, Smith pulled ahead to see what was happening.
"I was wondering what was wrong, and as I passed the Jeep I could see they were boxing the VW in so it couldn't come back into traffic and then I saw [the VW driver] slumped over onto the passenger's seat," he said.
Smith said he realized the unconscious woman had to be reached as quickly as possible.
"If you have a heart attack, you only have eight or nine minutes to survive," he said.
The cars were travelling at about 80 kilometres an hour when Smith pulled in front then slowed down until her car smacked into his and pushed him ahead.
"I know we've got to stop her now," he said.
"She's unconscious and we have to wake her up right away. She was smashing against the guard rail and banging into me. I'd put on the brakes and then when I felt the weight of her car pushing me ahead, I'd release them a bit. It was bang, bang, bang, bang all down the highway, but after about 500 yards we had her stopped," he said.
While this was going on, Ron MacLeod, an enforcement officer with the Agricultural Land Commission, had placed his truck behind the Volkswagen.
"When he saw us slowing the lady down, he got behind and put his lights on to warn other drivers," said Smith. When the stricken woman's car was brought to a halt and the cavalcade stopped, Smith, Sahsi and Islam ran to get the woman out of her car, but the doors were locked.
"The woman's eyes were open, but she couldn't do anything," said Sahsi. "We were banging on the windows trying to get in and someone handed me a wrench, but the guy who had stopped her came with a tire iron and smashed in the back window," he said.
Smith reached in and opened the doors and they pulled the woman out.
"When we grabbed her she didn't have a pulse," said Smith.
"We dragged her out and put her in front of her car on the highway," he said.
While Sahsi phoned 911 and Islam waved vehicles around them, MacLeod and Smith began CPR.
"I was doing compressions, Ron was doing mouth-to-mouth and we finally got her breathing. Then a cop came and he took over the compressions. Then the paramedics came and took her away," said Smith.
Linteau said the paramedics transported the woman to hospital and it was determined she suffered a massive heart attack.
"We're very thankful for the actions of Mr. Smith and Mr. MacLeod as well as Mr. Sahsi and Mr. Islam who stopped to help," she said.
"They not only helped save this woman's life, it's very likely they also prevented other serious injuries, or worse, as this all occurred on the busiest highway in the region during rush hour," Linteau said.
She said the woman remained in critical condition in hospital on Friday.
As for Smith, Linteau said she was amazed he "could think that quickly."
"His driving was very skilful and he displayed an enormous amount of bravery doing what he did," she said.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Motorists+pull+amazing+rescue+Highway/5148800/story.html#ixzz1SxE2nqL6
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