By Dani Weber / ADOT Communications
Not all freeway emergencies look like crashes. Sometimes they look like a vehicle slowly drifting to where it shouldn’t be.
Thanks to Jose Baeza, an ADOT employee who helps oversee litter pickup, landscaping, graffiti removal and freeway sweeping, two motorists were rescued from a silent emergency recently near a Loop 303 interchange ramp.
At around 2 a.m., Baeza was inspecting sweeper operations when he noticed a car at the gore point with its brake lights on. He stopped and when he knocked on the driver-side window, the two elderly occupants didn’t respond.
The car began to move and hit the wall, so Baeza moved his truck and put on his lights to warn traffic coming onto the on-ramp. The driver eventually awoke, and he seemed confused and disoriented. Baeza advised him to put the car in park, turn off the ignition and hand over his keys. The elderly woman continued to be nonresponsive.
Baeza contacted ADOT's Traffic Operations Center and remained at the scene until the Phoenix Fire Department and Department of Public Safety arrived. Both motorists appeared to be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and were taken to the hospital.
“We have CPR training to prepare for incidents like this, but this is the first time it’s ever happened to me,” Baeza said. “I was nervous at first, but I stayed until the fire department and DPS got there, and I feel good about it. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
John Zandler, who supervises Baeza and others in the maintenance unit, said, "From my point of view, it’s all too easy to pass those cars by when you’re focused on your work. Baeza went out of his way to help them."
Thanks to Baeza’s attention, commitment to serving Arizona’s public and quick thinking, both motorists received the medical attention they needed and have fully recovered.