WEST VALLEY CITY — A man whose job is to rush people to the hospital when they are injured was in need of medical attention himself after a minivan rolled over him while he was trying to help the driver.
The Gold Cross paramedic was driving north on 5600 West near 3120 South in West Valley City just before 3 p.m. Tuesday when some people flagged him down. There was a white minivan stopped in traffic, and the driver was passed out, slumped over the wheel. The paramedic went to check on the driver.
“As the Gold Cross employee opened the door to the suspect vehicle, the driver, Jesus Lemus, apparently woke up and immediately took off, accelerated at a high rate of speed. It caught or trapped the Gold Cross employee with that vehicle as it took off,” West Valley Police Sgt. Mike Powell said.
The paramedic held onto the door and the minivan struck another vehicle, causing the minivan to roll over the paramedic, Powell said.
Luckily, another Gold Cross ambulance was passing by and co-workers quickly gave the paramedic aid. Powell said the paramedic was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
“He’s talking. He’s actually in really good spirits,” said Chris Delamare, community relations director with Gold Cross, who visited the injured paramedic Tuesday night. “He was as jovial as he ever is. You know what, he doesn’t look worse for the wear.”
Delamare said the employee’s prognosis is good.
Lemus, 21, fled on foot and was apprehended about two blocks away, according to Powell. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of DUI with serious injuries, hit-and-run, and other charges.
Powell said these types of situations are very unpredictable. He said paramedics and police officers don't know if the person they are trying to help is having a medical problem, fell asleep or if they are passed out as a result of intoxication.
“When someone is not quite coherent in the driver seat of the vehicle there’s a lot of possibilities that could be going on there, and really there is no other way to find out than to directly attempt to make contact with that person in that driver’s seat,” he said.