Passengers leap from moving vehicle after Uber driver suffers heart attack

Fire department officials said the passengers made a split-second decision to leap from the moving vehicle in order to avoid crashing into trees

By Andrew Beale
The Press Democrat

COTATI, Calif. — An Uber driver from Petaluma died after suffering a heart attack on northbound Highway 101 in Cotati on Wednesday afternoon in an incident that led his two passengers to leap from the moving vehicle, according to CHP and the Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District.

The 50-year-old male driver was stricken ill about 1:35 p.m. while driving a white Toyota Camry on the freeway just south of the Highway 116 offramp, CHP Officer Matt Pinheiro said.

The driver was in the middle lane of the highway with two Uber customers in the backseat of his car when he suffered the medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — and became unresponsive, Pinheiro said.

The Camry drifted off the road onto the shoulder, slowing to about 5 mph when the passengers “ended up exiting the vehicle at a slow roll,” he said. The driver’s name was not released Wednesday night because his family was not yet notified, Pinheiro said, and names of the passengers were not immediately available.

Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District batallion chief Mike Weihman said the passengers apparently made a split-second decision to leap from the moving vehicle in order to avoid a potential crash into nearby trees.

“The spot where he left the road, he was heading toward a group of redwood trees, and I guess they decided that wasn’t going to end well,” he said.

The car did not end up hitting the redwood trees, and instead rolled to a stop a short distance from where the passengers leapt from the vehicle, Weihman said.

One of the passengers ran to the vehicle and began performing CPR on the driver until medical first responders arrived, he said. Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District personnel put a defibrillator on the driver, and when paramedics arrived, they transported him to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Pinheiro said the Uber driver was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital, shortly after 2 p.m. There was no damage to his Camry.

Copyright 2018 The Press Democrat

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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