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Bystanders lift SUV off man in wheelchair hit at Salt Lake crosswalk

Published December 9, 2011 8:16 am

SLC • A half-dozen people lift SUV to free critically injured man.
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Quick-acting bystanders may have saved the life of a 68-year-old man in a wheelchair, who was hit and pinned beneath a vehicle at a Salt Lake City crosswalk Thursday morning.

A half-dozen people lifted the SUV enough to free the man, who police later said was hospitalized in "very critical condition."

Ashley Heuser of Salt Lake City and her boyfriend were driving on Redwood Road at about 9 a.m. when they saw the man the street crossing 1000 North in his electrically powered wheelchair.

"I had saw the guy stopping at the crosswalk and go again," Heuser said.

A 63-year-old woman driving an SUV was making a left turn as she hit the man, according to police. He was knocked to the ground and his chair was wedged on its side beneath the front bumper of the vehicle.

Heuser said she and her boyfriend, along with about five bystanders, partially lifted the vehicle and pulled the man to safety. "We just lifted it up enough to get the man out and then just set it back down," Heuser said.

The man was barely breathing and had bubbles coming from his mouth, and Heuser noticed he seemed to be choking on his tongue as his face had turned a shade of purple.

Heuser used the skills she learned in her first-response class to clear his airway. Others connected the man back to his oxygen tank tubes, and he began "to regain the color in his face," she said.

The driver of the SUV was "very shaken," Heuser said, adding that she didn't think the driver saw the man. "She was crying. She just didn't really know what to do."

Paramedics treated the man and transported him by ambulance to Intermountain Medical Center.

Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Rick Black said if not for the efforts of the bystanders, the man may not have made it to the hospital alive.

"I think they definitely had a hand in saving this guy's life," Black said, adding that the man was breathing when crews arrived, and did not have any outward signs of injury. If the man had taken the full weight of the car "he would have not been breathing at all when we got there," Black said.

But Heuser said she and those that helped won't go as far as calling themselves heroes.

"It was basically something we knew we all needed to do," she said. "I don't want to be called heroes. It just needed to be done."

Salt Lake City police Detective Dennis McGowan said the man was initially reported to be in serious condition, but took a turn for the worse. "I'm told he is now in very critical condition," he said. The man's name was not being released.

McGowan said no citations were immediately issued, but the accident remained under investigation.


Twitter: @CimCity




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