Off-duty police captain likely saved life of trucker who crashed into Clifton property after suffering medical episode

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 8:19 PM CDT
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CLIFTON, Texas (KWTX) - The driver of an 18-wheeler who authorities say likely suffered a medical episode that led to him to wreck a big rig into the front yard of a Clifton home is alive today thanks to an off-duty officer responding to the call.

Captain Curtis Rust with the Clifton Police Department wasn’t on the clock the morning of the accident, but had gone up to the police station to work off-duty.

His wife, Heather, and their four sons had gone to Florida for Heather’s job, so Curtis decided to get caught up on paperwork when the call about an 18-wheeler crashing just off Highway 6 came in around 1:30 a.m.

“While I was sitting there, I heard a call come out of a vehicle crashing into someone’s front yard,” Rust said. “I didn’t think much about it at first, just because, unfortunately, we get that quite a bit with Highway 6 running through our city, so I waited a couple of seconds or so.”

Officers Bradley Boulton and Trevlyn Winder were on patrol and arrived at the scene within seconds. That’s when Rust heard the news that the victim was unresponsive.

“They called out that the male subject was not responsive, so I knew then something was probably going to be wrong,” he said.

Rust is a trained EMT so he hopped into his personal pickup truck and rushed to the scene.

When Rust arrived, they told him the driver had no pulse.

“I jumped in, checked for a pulse, didn’t feel a pulse and saw his face was turning purple, so those two things right there, I knew he wasn’t breathing and something was wrong,” Rust said.

Officer Winder and Captain Rust pulled out the man, who was wedged in the cab of the truck.

Rust immediately put his EMT training to use.

“I had Officer Winder start chest compressions, and Officer Boulton I had him hold C-spine and open the guy’s airway.”

The officers did chest compressions for around six minutes before other first responders arrived.

EMS paramedics who arrived at the scene worked on the man for nearly an hour and got him breathing again. The man then began to show signs of life.

“We were doing compressions and the color came back into his face and he started breathing a little bit,” Rust recalled.

The driver was taken by ambulance to Goodall Witcher Hospital in Clifton, and then flown to Baylor Scott and White in Waco.

Rust says he believes he’s alive today because of the efforts.

“I guess the main reason I did it is I just knew something was wrong, and knew I needed to get over there and help out,” Rust said.

“The two officers are rookies, but they’re both phenomenal officers, and they listen and do what they’ve supposed to,” the captain said, “But I knew, with him being unresponsive, both of them haven’t had to deal with that situation too much, so I knew I needed to get there and give some directions.”

Captain Rust says he has recommended Winder and Boulton for the department’s prestigious “Life Saving Award.”

“The guys did a phenomenal job. Officer Winder and officer Boulton did great, especially, being about one year rookies,” he said.

The victim is said to be in stable condition, and recovering well.

Authorities believe he may have suffered cardiac arrest.