Hero cop to rescue
‘‘I could see straight away, beads of sweat were running off him. He had no idea what was happening.’’ Sergeant Rob Pierce
Sergeant Rob Pierce didn’t hesitate.
With the seizing driver fast approaching the corner of a 100kmh stretch, the Te Awamutu police officer could only think ‘‘how do I stop this?’’ So he pulled out in front.
‘‘It all happened so fast,’’ Pierce told
Stuff as he reflected on the incident yesterday.
‘‘I was just thankful nothing came round the corner when we were on that side of the road, someone would have been seriously injured or died, no doubt about it.’’
It was lunchtime on Monday and Pierce was heading to Ngaruawahia to complete a health and safety audit.
Along Paterangi Rd he came across a large truck chugging along the straight at 60kmh in a 100km zone.
He nudged out from behind and caught sight of the little red Toyota straddling the centreline.
Pierce knew ‘‘something wasn’t right’’.
‘‘I overtook the truck and got in behind the red car with my lights and sirens going and he just carried on about 60km an hour.
‘‘Then he just swerved across into the right hand lane, completely in the wrong lane.’’
At first Pierce thought the driver may have been a tourist, panicked over which side of the road to travel on.
‘‘So I pulled up beside him – I was in my lane, he was in the wrong lane.’’
Pierce waved at the the driver, but got no response.
His eyes were fixated and unwavering from the road ahead, Pierce said.
‘‘He was still conscious but looking straight ahead. Even with the lights and sirens, and me waving at him – he had no idea I was there.’’
Living on the same road, Pierce knew the corner on the 100km stretch was fast approaching.
He slipped the patrol car across the centreline and in front of the Toyota.
‘‘Then I just started to slow down until he hit me in the back of the car.’’
Both cars slowed to a stop on the right hand side of the tarmac.
Pulling up the handbrake, Pierce called for backup and went to check on the driver.
He found the 62-year-old with his foot still on the accelerator. The wheels of the car were spinning in the gravel beneath.
‘‘I could see straight away, beads of sweat were running off him.
‘‘He had no idea what was happening.’’
After a few minutes the driver came round. He could tell Pierce his name, but had no memory of the previous moments or how he ended up on the wrong side of the road.
It turns out the driver was suffering a seizure.
The man was taken by ambulance to Waikato Hospital for assessment.
Pierce later found out he’d only just had his driver’s licence returned after a 12-month stand-down following a previous episode.
He also wanted to thank the truck driver who jumped out behind the cars to slow traffic down.
Thinking back on the incident, Pierce said it all seemed ‘‘quite surreal’’.
‘‘You don’t think too much about the bad consequences of what could have happened until afterwards.
‘‘I’m just glad I came across him on the particular piece of road I did, and that I was there.’’
Being a protection officer for primeministerial services based in the Waikato, Pierce has completed advanced driver training courses on race tracks around the country.
But Monday’s events were a far cry from his typical desk job as a prevention sergeant for the southwestern Waikato.
He’s been in the force 25 years and never made a move like it.
‘‘I guess when you go to work as a police officer, you never know what you’re going to get called to.’’
That night Pierce returned home to his home on Paterangi Rd when a Toll truck drove past.
‘‘If that had been earlier on today, someone would have died.’’
Sergeant Rob Pierce used his car to block and stop a a driver who was suffering from a medical incident, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision.