Schodack community steps in to save driver under the influence

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SCHODACK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A local pastor is used to trying to save souls, but on Thursday morning, he joined others to save a life. It was a rescue that ended up with a person saved, but now facing charges.

It was a life-or-death situation on the road between the Maple Junior High School and the Emmanuel Reformed Church in Schodack.

“Someone from the church called 911, and it wasn’t about the kids, but there was somebody out on the street laying there in need,” said Pastor Dirk Gieser.

Schodack Police say a 32-year-old Castleton man was driving impaired by drugs. After hitting some trash cans, he started to slow down as he continued down Maple Hill Road.

Motorists and staff members of the Church went into life saving mode and rushed to assist the man that was in medical distress.

“The cook here at the church looked out the window and when she saw the vehicle she didn’t think much of it. She wasn’t sure what was going on, and she saw a motorist obviously trying to shake the guy thinking he was in distress. She then ran out towards the car,” said Schodack Police Chief John Hourigan.

People from the school and the church pulled him out and made sure the car was parked.

“It was basically in the middle of the road where they were doing CPR,” said Schodack Police Officer Rich Eckel.

Principal Jacqueline Hill and Pastor Dirk Gieser both played a part in the rescue.

“This looks like an overdose. I’m like, ‘well I got Narcan.’ I went through the training, and lo and behold, this was a lifesaver,” said Gieser. 

“I just ran and grabbed the AED that we have on hand at the school. I jumped into the car with him and ended up over here,” said Hill.

After the man was given the Narcan, Castleton Ambulance arrived along with SPD to continue life saving measures to ultimately save the life of the driver.

“It was about 10 to 15 minutes later he was conscious. It was amazing because he was blue before that,” said Gieser.

The driver, who is in the hospital, was charged with driving while impaired by drugs, leaving the scene of a property damage auto accident, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

It was a situation that could have ended tragically with an accident on the second day of school. Fortunately, no one was injured and the incident happened in an area that help was readily available.

“It gave that person a second chance of life. Hopefully everyone learns from this and decides to make good decisions moving forward,” said Hill. 

“It really was a miracle, so let’s hope this could be his second chance,” said Eckel.

Chief Hourigan says this was another outstanding example of how the community comes together to help one another.

If you know someone struggling with substance abuse, there are resources available in the community to help prevent instances like these from ever happening.

Here are some resources:

Rensselaer County:
Rensselaer Area Drug Awareness Reality Coalition

New York State:
The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)

Federal:
Drug Enforcement Agency
National Institute on Drug Abuse

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