Most people view a traffic jam as a major nuisance, but few stop to see what’s actually causing it. However, that’s exactly what Aurelio “Rikki” Todd did—and he helped save a man’s life.
One civic-minded man’s intuition to check if everything was ok saves the life of another
Aurelio “Rikki” Todd was driving east on Burcham Drive, in Lansing, Michigan, on a run for his medical marijuana delivery service, Caregiver of Lansing when he found himself backed up by some 15 cars. As he inched forward, prepared to keep going, Todd had a thought: “The man sat there and missed two lights. There’s got to be something wrong.” — as reported in Tank’s Good News
It’s lucky Todd stopped to check on the unmoving vehicle because when he found 45-year-old Kobie Johnson seemingly unconscious behind the wheel, things looked dire. Todd banged on the window to rouse the man, but Johnson’s eyes flitted and then his head slumped to his shoulder. It did not look like he was breathing.
Todd ran to his car and called 911, telling the dispatcher to hurry because the man was unresponsive. His friend who was riding with him moved Todd’s car and started helping move the traffic out of the way.
As they waited for emergency responders to arrive on the scene, Todd kept talking to Johnson through the rolled-up window.
“I kept beating on the car yelling … ‘Hold on. Just hold on,’” Todd said. “I wanted him to know ‘aint nobody going anywhere. We’re here. They’re coming. Don’t worry. Just hold on.”
East Lansing Officer Andrew Stephenson was the first to arrive, followed by Officer Matt Heffelfinger and Sgt. Erich Vedder.
A recovered Mr. Johnson poses with his rescuers Kobie Johnson, second from left, poses with, from left, East Lansing Police Officer Andrew Stephenson, Aurelio Todd and East Lansing Police Sgt. Erich Vedder on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, at Johnson’s home in East Lansing. 26. Source: NickKing/LansingStateJournal
“I woke up that Thursday thinking it’s another random day, not knowing it could be my last,”
Stephenson saw that Johnson still had his foot on the brake and the car was in gear. He pulled his squad car perpendicularly in front of Johnson’s car to keep it from moving. Then, Vedder used a gadget designed to cut a seatbelt and break out of a car window. Stephenson unlocked the car doors while Vedder and Heffelfinger pulled the unconscious Johnson onto the pavement.
After assessing the scene, Vedder began chest compressions. When paramedics arrived and took over Johnson’s care, they reported a faint pulse.
At Sparrow Hospital, doctors said the situation looked grave. Doctors told family and Johnson’s wife that he had had a cardiac arrest and was in a medical coma.
But to everyone’s relief, Johnson pulled through and came out of the coma. He went on medical leave from his job and said he had been treated for diverticulitis, and the infection triggered the cardiac arrest.
While Johnson was hospitalized, doctors implanted a defibrillator to keep his heart regulated. He received therapy for fine motor skills and some memory.
Johnson says he’s in an interesting predicament because he is unable to remember the incident.
“I will never be able to thank everyone involved. It’s hard because I have no memory of it,” he said.
“I’m sure I woke up that Thursday thinking it’s another random day, not knowing it could be my last,” Johnson said, reflecting on his ordeal. He says it’s important to “live every day to the fullest, because you never know if you’re promised another one.”
East Lansing Police Sgt. Erich Vedder shows the tool he used to break Kobie Johnson’s window on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, at Johnson’s home in East Lansing. Johnson suffered a cardiac arrest in his vehicle on Sept. 26 while on Burcham Drive. Sergeant Vedder, two other East Lansing Police officers and good Samaritan Aurelio Todd helped save Johnson. Source: NickKing/LansingStateJournal
Police praise Todd’s actions
Mr. Johnson said he doesn’t blame the drivers who went around his car without checking on him. He likely would have done the same. Now, he said, he’ll be careful to question such situations, like Todd did.
The officers praised Todd’s action. “To take a half second out of his day to evaluate the situation rather than to just drive around him…he took the correct course of action in my opinion in every aspect of what he did,” Stephenson said.
Johnson said, if not for Todd’s hesitation to pass his car, he wouldn’t be here.
This article was originally published on brightvibes.com on Dec 3, 2019.