Heroic bystanders launch rescue effort after Post Road East crash
WESTPORT - When a car crashed and flipped on Post Road East Wednesday morning, a trio of bystanders burst into action in an attempt to rescue the 61-year-old man who’d been behind the wheel.
Scott Luciani, a Fairfield native and current Bridgeport resident, and Paul Szegedy, working nearby at Vautrin Auto Services at 1690 Post Road East, heard the crash, saw smoke coming out of the car and ran across the street to help. A Bridgeport man on a passing bus, Luciani described, was on the way to a job interview when he saw the crash but got off and stayed to help too.
“I was just doing what I think any responsible person should do,” Luciani said. “I just hope the individual makes a recovery and is okay.”
The car had been driving east on the road when it swerved across center and struck a tree on the opposite side of the road, according to Lt. David Farrell of Westport Police. The fire chief called rescue attempts for the driver a reassuring combination of community effort and teamwork.
Luciani, an auto mechanic at Vautrin who has five years of experience as an EMT, described that the trio first tried to get the smoking engine of the car under control. When they saw the inside of the car filling with smoke, they determined they had to pull the driver from the car so he wouldn’t suffocate on the smoke.
Luciani said they stabilized the man as best as possible, held pressure where he was bleeding and tried to keep him conscious. The citizen rescuers monitored the driver until emergency responders made it to the scene.
“Just from prior experience and just seeing something like that, it was a pretty major motor vehicle incident and we’re there before medical personnel are there and everything and someone needs to do something because the first few minutes are the most critical,” Luciani said of what spurred him to action.
He added, “Just to help other people -- it’s just the right thing to do. I wish more people did it. You see someone in harm, you do what you can to help.”
Luciani also noted the “remarkable” effort of the third rescuer, a man from Bridgeport. After seeing the crash while on the bus heading to Norwalk for a job interview, he asked the bus driver if he could get off to help, according to Luciani. The bus driver told him the bus wouldn’t wait for him if he got off, Luciani continued, but the man got off regardless and stayed to help rescue and care for the injured driver.
The first emergency personnel on the scene was Fire Chief Robert Yost, who happened to be nearby when he heard the call for the accident over his radio. He described seeing people using a fire extinguisher on the car and that three men had dragged the driver to safety and were caring for him with gloves on and a medical kit.
“That’s really reassuring that people are still willing to step in and help out a fellow citizen,” Yost said of the rescuers’ efforts.
Yost helped direct firefighters and police to the scene and got Oxygen from his car for the injured driver.
“Then the cavalry showed up,” he said. Police arrived, followed by firefighters and EMS. Yost described one police officer began immediately helping the citizen rescuers while another stopped cars from driving through the area. When firefighters arrived, they protected the car with a hose line in case it reignited and assisted with medical treatment.
“It was definitely a team effort,” Yost said.
Marc Hartog, Deputy Director for Westport Emergency Medical Services, confirmed the driver appeared to be the only person in the car when it crashed. The man sustained head trauma and was combative due to his injuries when EMS arrived, Hartog said.
EMS and firefighters were able to put the man on a stretcher and into an ambulance. On the way to Norwalk Hospital, EMS were able to sedate and treat the man, Hartog said, and while his injuries were serious, he was stable and doing well by the time Westport’s crew left the hospital.
Hartog also lauded the joint fire, police and EMS effort, adding, “None of us do this alone.”
According to Farrell, the police department’s accident investigation team is investigating the crash. Following the accident, which occurred around 11:30 a.m. near Westfair Drive, part of Post Road East was closed through mid-afternoon.