Three Good Samaritans who saved a 24-year-old unconscious driver in Morris County say they were in the right place at the right time.
Christopher Caccavella, 17, of Roxbury, was on his way to class at the Morris County School of Technology in Denville Wednesday morning when he saw the driver in the SUV next to him collapsed on the steering wheel at the Route 10 jughandle across from the Pelican Center.
The teen pulled over and dialed #77, connecting him with a Dangerous Driver System operator.
At that moment, Denville attorney Matthew Troiano -- who formerly worked at the Morris County Prosecutor's office -- pulled over and took the phone.
"I was so nervous, Caccavella said. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. A lot of people were passing by, but I knew [getting help] was the right thing to do."
Moments later, George Mazpule -- a gastrointenstinal robotic surgeon at HUMC and The Valley Hospital -- pulled up behind them.
"I parked behind his car and went to the driver side window," Mazpule said. "I saw a young man slouched over the steering wheel. He was cyanotic (looked purple from lack of oxygen)."
The men knew they had to act quickly -- but the driver's doors were locked.
Mazpule, who recognized the victim as a deliveryman for Hansel 'n Griddle, grabbed a golf club from his car and smashed the passenger window.
Caccavella and Troiano put the car in park and turned it off as Mazpule pulled the driver out of the vehicle.
"I laid him on the ground," Mazpule said. "He was unconscious, had no pulse but was still warm -- signs that his cardiac arrest happened relatively recently."
The surgeon began chest compressions and talked Troiano through providing oxygen through a valve mask from the CPR bag, and then an oxygen tank.
The pair continued CPR together until police arrived and administered Narcan.
The driver was starting to come to and move his extremities slowly, but not enough to stop CPR, Mazpule said.
Police readied the Narcan as Mazpule opened their emergency kit, giving the driver oxygen and applying an AED, which determined the man did not need defibrillation.
Finally, the victim had a pulse. It was weak, but it was there, Mazpule said.
"He slowly woke up about 10 to 20 seconds later and started coughing," the surgeon said. "I stopped CPR and sat him up.
"He woke up enough to sit up on his own and answered simple questions, but he was still clearly altered, but alert enough to answer the police's questions.
"He said he took Kratom," a psychoactive herbal extract that affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine.
The victim was taken to Saint Clare's Hospital in Denville.
Troiano, Mazpule and Caccavella all said they acted on instinct.
"Even though as a robotic gastrointestinal surgeon we aren't faced with cardiac arrests as often as ER physicians and anesthesiologists, I felt I was prepared enough and I'm thankful for those that trained me along the way," he said.
"I ultimately hope he recovers fully," Mazpule added. "He is very young and deserves to be given a chance of fulfilling his life's dreams. I'm thankful I was at the right place at the right time."
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