Claudia Chavez was on her way to drop off her kids Monday and head to work, when and Kenilworth Avenue changed everything.
According to Capt. Thomas Kemp of the Greenbelt Police Department, a preliminary investigation showed that the Hyattsville man driving a 1995 GMC Safari van ran a red light signal and was injured when his van was struck by a Honda and flipped.
Chavez said she was in her car driving and saw the injured man.
“Even though I had my kids in the car, I couldn’t just drive by,” she said, adding she didn’t think twice about helping him out.
He was not conscious at all and was having a very hard time breathing, Chavez recounted.
Master Police Officer Ryan Peck, a Navy corpsman, now with the Greenbelt Police Department said he arrived first on the scene. When he got there, he said, he had no suction cup or equipment, so there was nothing he could do to help the Hyattsville man, who he said was trapped and pinned in the van.
He attended to the friend of the driver and did traffic control, Peck said.
Chavez, a labor and delivery nurse said she normally deals with women. But the van driver was completely unconscious and it was clear he was having difficulty breathing, so Chavez went to work.
“I was actually thankful that the nurse stopped because she didn’t have to do that,” Peck said, “It would have been very easy for her to keep driving along.”
Donning a pair of gloves, Chavez tried to clear the unconscious man’s airway, she recounted, explaining it was obstructed by everything in his mouth.
She did what she could to help him, she said, and just prayed to God that some additional help would come soon.
Once that help arrived, Chavez got out of the way because she didn’t want her kids to see them cut the car and she was running late to work, shesaid .
Chavez, a nurse at the National Naval Medical Center, has been in the medical field for 14 years. She has also worked at other area hospitals, including Holy Cross and Washington Adventist.
Her 9-year old son and 6-year old daughter asked her if the man was alright. They both want to be physicians one day, Chavez said, and were genuinely concerned.
When she found out that the man was still alive, Chavez was relieved.
Apparently, it looks like he’s actually going to live, Peck said, “[Chavez] clearing the airway probably helped keep him alive.”