Commuter's quick action credited with saving a life

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by LORI MATSUKAWA / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM

SEATTLE -- Julie Rogel had just taken a refresher CPR course in March. The timing was perfect. On July 19, she was stopped at the light at 1st Avenue South and South Spokane Street when her car was rear-ended. 

"When I looked in the mirror, I could tell something was wrong," said Rogel. "The driver's  head was laid back and his eyes were closed."

She set her emergency brake and went to see the driver of the car who hit her. 69-year old Larry Salzbrun had apparently suffered a heart attack. Rogel, who is a school safety officer, said she climbed into the passenger side of the car, reclined Salzbrun's seat and began CPR.  Meanwhile, a police officer who had been directing traffic called 9-1-1 and helped Rogel through the driver's window.

"I was able to get between him and the steering wheel," said Rogel.  "The steering wheel gave me some leverage. So I just started pumping his chest until the medics came within a few minutes."

Julie's brother, Brandon, said his sister still doesn't realize that she's a hero. "I was talking to her later on the phone and told her, "You still don't get it! If you hadn't been there, he wouldn't have made it. You were meant to be there to save his life!"

At Harborview later that day, Salzbrun's relatives said they were grateful for Julie's quick action. "This woman restored my faith in humanity," said Mark Hart, Salzbrun's son in law. "It's pretty special. I'd like to thank her, at the very least give her a hug."

Julie says she's glad her instincts kicked in. "I've been training for several years, never thought I'd need it (CPR training).  I was in the right place at the right time, I guess."

As of Monday, Larry Sulzbrun was in intensive care,  in critical condition.

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