An extraordinary Joe: Veteran risks life to help stricken driver

ST. GEORGE — When Joe Hamblin saw a black Ford truck careening down Bluff Street Thursday morning, he instinctively knew something was wrong.

The truck was moving slowly, but running up onto the curb around the 500 block of North Bluff Street.

“I noticed somebody on the curb,” Hamblin said. “I thought maybe they were avoiding something that was in the road – couldn’t quite see it until I came up to it. I just heard a bunch of horns honking.”

The truck began veering to the left across southbound lanes, heading for oncoming traffic.

Cars were swerving to avoid the truck, Hamblin said, and he moved from the right lane to the left. His own truck was a lifted, high-profile Ford, which allowed him to look down into the driver’s compartment of the out-of-control vehicle.

“I guess being high profile compared to others, I was able to see she was completely slumped over … into the passenger side of her car,” Hamblin said. “So once I noticed that, I just immediately pulled over, slammed it into park, jumped out.”

Hamblin was not in perfect physical health. His left foot, after repeated injuries sustained in military service, had become badly infected and operated on only a few days earlier. With no regard to his own injury, he leapt out of his truck and sprang into action.

“It’s all a blur, but when I look back and seen how many cars were coming and going, I do remember (it being) like that game Frogger or something,” he said. “I get up to the car, I look and I’m yelling ‘hey hey hey.’ Doors locked.”

Chasing after a moving vehicle, with traffic moving around him, Hamblin had so much adrenaline in his system, he said, that he felt nothing in his foot despite the gaping wound that was being torn back open. A veteran, all his military training came into gear.

“It just took over,” he said. “I didn’t want to get in front of the car, being that I’m hopping, so I kind of did a ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ across her hood to the other side.”

Hamblin stood on the running board of the driver’s vehicle, grabbed the steering wheel and continued to yell at the stricken driver. He dodged oncoming traffic as he attempted to guide the vehicle towards safety. One of the drivers in the northbound lane stopped, and traffic behind took heed and stopped as well. As the car hit the curb in front of Colorland Power Equipment, the driver’s foot hit the gas and the truck began to lurch forward. Hamblin only had a split second to react.

“It started to go. I immediately slammed it into park … I pulled her foot off. I came to a stop. I opened up the door, unbuckled her, took the keys out.”

The driver had no pulse, he said. A woman nearby had dialed 911 and told Hamblin they needed to get her on the ground. At that point, a St. George Police Officer arrived and together they placed her on the ground and began administering CPR. The officer did chest compressions while Hamblin did mouth-to-mouth. They continued to give first aid until another St. George Police officer arrived and relieved Hamblin.

“Right then I started to feel the pain in my foot, because this whole time I was wondering ‘how bad is my foot hurt?’ But obviously I was thinking about her.”

Gold Cross Ambulance arrived and gave medical attention to the woman, transporting the woman to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.

Hamblin had been on his way to a surgery center to have his leg looked at when the incident occurred. Eventually, he made his way to the center to get his now reopened wound looked at.

He did what needed to be done and does not feel like a hero, Hamblin said. His love of his country and the people who live here are what inspire him to risk his safety and life.

“That’s what makes any veteran the best that they can be is first having a love for your nation and your people.”

You just have to be ready, Hamblin said. When events such as this occur, and the flight-or-fight instinct kicks in, you have to be ready to fight, he said, and do your best to help your fellow man.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Hamblin said.

St. George Police spokesperson Lona Trombley said:

As a police department, we’re just appreciative that he took these extra steps. It could have been so much worse, for both our victim who was having the medical episode and then other people in the traffic that could have gotten hit.

It’s certainly very brave of him and especially if he was already injured – for him to put aside his own pain to go out of his way to help someone else.

It seems like it’s more and more rare these days, so it’s a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.

Hamblin’s vehicle had a dash camera that caught footage of the initial incident. That footage is included in the video top of this report.

Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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2 Comments

  • Bender April 2, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Joe Hamblin = Good Joe!

  • DB April 3, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    The word ‘hero’ is overused, but I’ll go with it on this one.

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