Va. trooper, bystanders leap into action to try and save crash victim
Trooper James Brooks smashed the driver's window and, with the help of Austin Wiggins, pulled Karen Wright out of the car before performing CPR on her
By Matt Jones
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — As Trooper James Brooks approached the Hampton River bridge on Interstate 64 westbound on Wednesday evening, he watched two cars nearly crash into each other.
In the far right lane, an SUV was stopped with its brake lights on. Brooks stopped behind it, in between cars trying to get back into traffic.
“As I'm stopping, there's other cars almost hitting me,” Brooks said. “They're coming to a stop all around me.”
Brooks was near Mercury Boulevard when state police dispatchers received a call about the SUV, whose driver was slumped over the wheel. He arrived and radioed for help from the Virginia Department of Transportation to direct traffic around it.
“The blue lights out there on that interstate really doesn't mean anything to half the people out there,” Brooks said.
The trooper wasn’t sure whether the slumped woman behind the wheel was having a medical emergency. Then he saw her lips were turning blue.
He ran back to his patrol car to grab a window breaker. Austin Wiggins, a VDOT employee, had just pulled up; the trooper asked him to shut down a couple of lanes and then come and help.
Brooks smashed in the driver’s window and, with Wiggins’ help, pulled Karen Lynn Wright out of the car. The car was still running, though her foot was on the brake, so Brooks undid her seat belt and turned off the car.
They laid her between the closed lanes and started CPR. Wiggins started chest compression while Brooks, using a CPR mask, did rescue breaths.
As they worked, more help arrived in the form of Good Samaritans — professional ones who were off duty and happened to be passing. When the three first responders — a private ambulance driver, a volunteer firefighter and a nurse — stopped to help, Brooks let them take over resuscitating her.
Hampton medics and firefighters arrived afterward and transported Wright to Sentara Careplex Hospital in Hampton, where she was pronounced dead.
“As far as being a Good Samaritan, it's generally not preferred. I don't like that because it causes more of an issue,” Brooks said. “But I am going to say I am thankful that I had first responders stop to help me.”