Two ITD employees worked valiantly to revive a 62-year-old man stricken by a heart attack while driving through a work zone Monday. Despite the efforts of John Richmond and Ken Puderbaugh, the Bozeman man was pronounced dead where his vehicle left the road near milepost 96, about one mile west of Lowell.
Richmond was driving a pilot vehicle westbound through a work zone when he noticed the car immediately behind him veer off the highway, hit the shoulder and flip onto its top after traveling about 150 feet. The incident occurred at about 2:20 p.m.
After the vehicle struck a rock and overturned, Richmond contacted Puderbaugh and asked him to summon medical help. Puderbaugh was supervising a brush-thinning crew working next to the highway.
The transportation technicians from District 2 cut away a seat belt that kept the victim suspended in the overturned vehicle. They immediately began administering CPR and continued until an EMS crew arrived from Kooskia about 30 minutes later. Medical responders were unable to revive the victim.
“I want to commend the ITD crew for jumping in and starting CPR and maintaining it until we could get there with an AED (automated external defibrillator) and the Kooskia ambulance crew,” said Idaho County Sheriff Deputy Gene Meinen, who responded to the scene.
Puderbaugh, who is based at the Kooskia maintenance facility, received CPR training through the transportation department. He has worked for ITD since 1996. Richmond works out of the Fleming maintenance facility and learned CPR before coming to the department in 2003.
“They relied on their training and reacted quickly in an attempt to revive the victim,” said Mark Schuster, foreman for Lochsa maintenance. “They did everything they could do; unfortunately they weren’t able to save him.”
District 2 crews responded to a similar incident near Grangeville last year in which a chip truck driver suffered a fatal heart attack while driving.
Photos: John Richmond, top, and Ken Puderbaugh, bottom