Petaluma motorists pull unresponsive driver from stalled vehicle

Fellow motorists on Lakeville Highway broke a window to get to an unresponsive driver and began administering CPR to the man.|

Motorists on a busy Petaluma thoroughfare broke a vehicle window to begin resuscitating a driver who suffered a cardiac arrest behind the wheel Thursday, Petaluma fire officials said.

The 61-year-old man was in a line of traffic stopped on Lakeville Highway near South McDowell Avenue when he suffered a heart attack just before 8:15 a.m., Petaluma Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Schach said. His vehicle began slowly moving in reverse and bumped into the car behind him.

That driver got out, walked up to the man’s car and saw he was slumped over and turning blue, Schach said. The doors to the vehicle were locked, Schach said.

Two truck drivers got out of their vehicles and helped break through the driver’s side window, using a fire extinguisher and a hammer. They pulled the man out of the vehicle and began administering CPR, Schach said.

The driver was not breathing and did not have a pulse, Schach said. A woman behind the wheel of a Verihealth medical transport van had a defibrillator and used that on the stricken man as well.

Paramedics took over lifesaving measures and transported the man to Petaluma Valley Hospital, where he remained Friday and was expected to be brought out of a medically induced coma, Schach said. The man’s condition and name were not immediately available.

Schach praised the efforts of the motorists to help the man.

Most people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital or without immediate medical care will die, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only a small percentage of people receive CPR from bystanders, but those who do are much more likely to survive, according to a 2011 CDC report.

“That people took action, that is amazing,” Schach said.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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