Even though most of us do it daily without thinking, driving is one of the most remarkable and dangerous tasks we perform.
Not only is it the biggest piece of machinery that most of us will ever operate, in a split second, disaster can strike.
On Dec. 26, Iowa woman Vicki Witte was driving on Highway 13 in Linn County. Suddenly, Witte felt her heart stop and knew she was in serious danger.
She managed to pull off to the shoulder. She was helpless and would die without assistance.
Passerby Arturo Melendez of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had noticed Witte swerving and knew something wasn’t right. He pulled over and went to check on the stopped car.
Realizing that the driver was in trouble, he jumped into action. “He busted out the window, unlocked the door, pulled her out and started CPR on the highway,” Brandi Bernard, Witte’s daughter, explained to reporters.
Melendez stayed by Witte’s side performing CPR until rescue workers arrived on scene and took her to the hospital. He called multiple times to check on her status.
Witte is recovering surrounded by loved ones. Remarkably, Melendez had no prior CPR training — he did his best to mimic what he’d seen in the movies.
“I had to do something. I had to do something for her because I knew she was dying in front of me and I feel like I have to do something,” Melendez explained.
While professionals would warn against providing CPR without proper training, Witte considers Melendez her hero. Without his help, she would have died, alone, on that highway.
“He will not be forgotten, that’s for sure. We will always keep in touch with him and always be thankful and grateful that he stopped,” Bernard added. Both intend to maintain a relationship with Melendez.
Both Witte and Bernard are emphatically grateful to the heroic motorist. In conjunction with the local sheriff’s department, they hope that his example will encourage other motorists to stop and help.
I’m certainly guilty of not stopping to check on situations when I’m driving.
I rationalize that stopping would create more traffic, or that I’m not qualified to offer assistance.
“If you see anybody even (in) a little bit of distress or acting funny, it doesn’t hurt to pull over and find out what’s going on,” Witte said.
That sentiment countered my viewpoint. While it can be scary to get involved, you never know when leaning in will save a life.
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