'True Miracle' Saves Driver's Life

Luck was on the side of a Missouri woman who went into cardiac arrest while driving.

Carolyn Holt was alone in her car on Friday, driving in St. Charles, Mo., when her heart stopped beating. She drifted across several lanes of traffic and then crashed into a guard rail. Other drivers stopped to help and by sheer luck, two of them were nurses and one was a defibrillator salesman — who happened to have a defibrillator in his car.

A truck driver used his trailer hitch to smash through a window and pull Holt out of the car. The nurses performed CPR and then used the defibrillator to shock Holt back to life. She spent the week in the hospital and is expected to be released April 27.

Holt joined two of her good Samaritans, Mary Blome, the nurse, and Steve Earle, the salesman, for an interview with The Early Show Thursday morning. She told co-anchor Julie Chen she has no memory of those terrifying moments on the road.

"Everybody finds it hard to believe, but the first thing I remember is waking up in the intensive care unit of the hospital and people saying to me, 'what do you remember?' And I said, 'Nothing,'" Holt told Chen. "So they started telling me the story about my very helpful friends."

Earle, who was driving with his wife to pick up their daughter, described the moment when he realized someone was in trouble. "We basically saw traffic slowing down, and Carolyn's car coming across the center line very, very slowly," he said. "At that point when I sort of swerved to go around her, I looked over and realized there was definitely something wrong. She looked to be unconscious at the wheel, and that's when we, along with several other cars, pulled over, and went over to see what was wrong."

Blome is a registered nurse and she jumped into action. "We went over to knock on the window. We thought this was just a small vehicle accident, and realized that Carolyn wasn't responsive. So the other man that is not with us today smashed in the window of the vehicle, and the gentleman got Carolyn out, and the other nurse and I assessed her and realized that she was in big trouble and we started CPR, compressions and breathing," she said. "Then Steve came with the defibrillator. It was a true miracle that evening."

As a salesman, Earle says he always carries defibrillators in his car — but it was unusual to be in his car at that point during the day. "It was strange luck that day because when we finish up work for the day, a lot of times we'll get in my wife's car and take it out to eat or to pick my daughter up. We just happened to get into my car for some reason."

Holt was full of thanks for her saviors and said, considering the amazing luck she's had, she might just buy a lottery ticket when she's released from the hospital.
  • Polly Leider

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