Utah man jumps into action after semitruck driver has heart attack, crashes

SALT LAKE CITY — Police are applauding the efforts of a good Samaritan who gave medical aid to a semitruck driver after a heart attack caused him to crash on Interstate 15 Thursday.

Traffic on I-15 was backed up for hours after police said the driver of a tractor-trailer suffered a heart attack which caused him to crash into a cement barrier around 2800 South on I-15.

“He was going at least 50 [mph] and came to a dead stop when he hit the barricade,” A 911 caller can be heard telling dispatch.

Utah Highway Patrol said the driver, an older gentleman, started to veer off to the right of the highway, crashing into a number of orange barrels before launching on top of a cement barrier.

“The patient’s having a heart attack, not conscious, not breathing,” dispatch radioed to officers heading to the scene.

The accident brought traffic to a halt.

“I wasn’t really sure what was happening until a lot of the dust settled and I could see that the truck actually crashed,” said Justin Letizia who was just four cars behind the semitruck driver.

He saw the whole thing unfold.

“Once I went past him, I saw him just seated in the truck, just kind of blank stare,” Letizia said. “I knew something was wrong.”

With training in the medical field, his first instinct was to help.

“I hopped up in his cab to try and get vitals,” Letizia said. “Me and a couple of the other passerby’s got him out of his truck, brought him down.”

Justin was accompanied by two off duty Provo police officers and a few other good Samaritans who stopped to lend a hand.

The group, performed CPR until first responders could arrive.

“It might have actually saved his life,” said Sergeant David Moreno with Utah Highway Patrol.

“We’re just so fortunate that these citizens decided to stop by and assist, you never know when you’re going to be called and they were ready,” Moreno said.

But Justin doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a man doing what's right.

“I kind of just like to look at it as helping someone out, I’d hope someone would stop if it were me or my family in that situation,” Letizia said.

The driver was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police said he is now stable.

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