A man who went into cardiac arrest while driving near Walmart on Industrial Boulevard Monday is recuperating after a Covington police officer, an off-duty Newton County Sheriff’s deputy, and a nurse from an Atlanta hospital helped to revive him after an accident.
Franka Young, with the Georgia State Patrol public information office, said Ernest Smith, 72, of Covington, was traveling west on Industrial Boulevard around 5 p.m. and while stopped at the traffic signal at the intersection of Ga. Highway 142, he lost consciousness and accelerated through the red traffic signal and across Ga. Highway 142.
A passenger in Smith’s car reached over to steer the vehicle, attempting to apply the brakes. However, the 2012 Dodge Ram, identified as a Ramsey’s Furniture truck by the NCSO, struck a curb on the north side of the road, a yield sign, a light pole and a tree and landed on top of an embankment, according to information from GSP.
Covington Police Capt. Ken Malcom said officer Brian Capps, who was in the nearby Bullrito’s restaurant parking lot checking for improperly parked vehicles, responded to the scene within seconds, along with off-duty Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputy Charlie Cook and Catherine Stephens, who's a nurse at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Malcom said apparently Smith went into cardiac arrest and Capps, Cook and the nurse worked together to perform CPR. Malcom said Capps used an AED defibrillator to shock Smith, and that’s when he regained a pulse.
He said as of Tuesday, Smith was alert and speaking to nurses at a hospital.
"That’s why we keep defibrillators in our police vehicles and why officers are trained to use them, for situations like this, so we could possibly save a life," Malcom said.
Jason Lynch, a witness who also ran to help on the scene by calling police, said if it weren’t for the quick responses of everyone, the man might not have survived.
"I think that you go through life day to day not thinking about others around us, maybe not often enough, but when it matters, people who have been trained in CPR, such as this lady… if it wasn’t for this lady, it would have maybe been a different outcome."
Malcom said in the heat of the moment, no one asked for the nurse name. However, a family member of Smith confirmed that Stephens was the one who helped Smith and was thankful for the help of Stephens and local officials.
"She was very instrumental in helping save his life along with Deputy Cook and officer Capps," Malcom said.