Alert Motorist Heads Off Crisis
All Beth McSwain could think Thursday morning was that something was wrong with the driver of the car in front of her and she needed to do something.
Little did she know that her decision to stop the car might have saved a woman’s life.
McSwain was on her way to work, driving down May Street about 7:30 a.m., when she noticed the car in front of her driving erratically. The car was swerving off the side of the road, slowing down and crossing the center line. Twice, the car pulled off the road and stopped.
“I pulled up beside the car, and I could see a woman inside,” McSwain said. “But then she would pull off again.”
The third time the woman pulled her car over, McSwain pulled in front of her car at an angle.
“I got out of my car,” McSwain later recalled when contacted by The Pilot, “and figured if she pulled off again she would have to stop or hit my car. I was afraid for her and other people she might encounter, especially if she made it out to U.S. 1. I just wanted to stop her from getting hurt.”
McSwain had noticed the car near May Street Market and had followed it out May Street for about a mile before finally getting the woman to stop on the stretch of road that runs alongside the Walthour-Moss Founda-tion.
When she approached the car, she could see that something didn’t look right with the driver. McSwain knocked on her window, got the woman to unlock the door, and she took the key out of the ignition.
“My husband was diabetic,” McSwain said, “and I was familiar with what someone looks like when their sugar dips. So I asked her if she was diabetic, and she nodded her head. She was having a hard time talking and seemed disoriented.”
McSwain works with exceptional students at STARS. Melanie Gee, a parent of a STARS student, recognized McSwain and stopped to assist. They looked in the woman’s purse and found a glucometer. They took a reading and found her blood sugar was 27, which is “dangerously low,” McSwain said.
McSwain had called 911 as soon as she noticed the car swaying back and forth in front of her and had stayed on the phone as she followed the car. When she realized the woman was possibly going into a diabetic shock, she and Gee relayed that information to the 911 operator.
Sheriff’s deputies and EMS personnel arrived on the scene shortly after. The woman was transported to the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s emergency room, where she was treated and released.
McSwain’s exposure to diabetes, which came when her late husband had the disease, appeared to be a blessing in this situation.
“I never felt scared for myself,” she said, “I was more worried about the driver of the car and other people on the road. I was just somebody helping somebody out. I guess I was just put in the right place at the right time. Maybe that was the reason I was behind her today.”
Although sheriff’s Chief Deputy Neil Godfrey acknowledged that Mc-Swain’s actions might “have saved this woman’s life and somebody else’s,” he ex-pressed a note of caution.
“I wouldn’t encourage the public to do something like this,” he said, “but in this instance it turned out to be a good thing because it was a medical situation. As an everyday occurrence, however, it is a better idea to let an officer who is trained make this kind of stop.”
Contact Hunter Chase at email@example.com.
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