Man thanks rescuers
Cops, citizens honored for saving driver’s life
Charles Rader and his wife, Diana, visited the Newark Police Department recently to express their gratitude to some key people, face to face, even though they wondered if mere thanks would be enough.
“How do you thank someone for saving your life? I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them,” said Charles, a 64-year-old Elkton, Md., resident. “It’s hard to put into words. You don’t want to call or send a card. We wanted to thank them in person.”
The couple made arrangements to personally thank two good Samaritans and two NPD officers who took swift, lifesaving action around noon July 16, when Charles went into cardiac arrest while driving through Newark.
Police officials identified the good Samaritans only as “Mr. Baffone and Mr. Jeppe” and the officers as Cpl. Peter Barnes and Officer Brian Whitehead. They also reported that Delaware State Police Cpl. Richie, whose full name police did not release, assisted.
Charles is deeply appreciative of the initial CPR that Baffone and Jeppe performed on him, and he’s equally thankful for Barnes and Whitehead using a defibrillator to shock his heart into beating — all of which stabilized him just enough.
But Rader deferred to his wife to tell the story.
“Honestly, I don’t remember a thing. I can tell you what everyone told me — my heart stopped at that point. It wasn’t a heart attack. Something electrical went wrong with my heart,” Rader explained.
With Diana in the front passenger seat, Charles was driving on East Cleveland Avenue, heading out of town as they made their way home after shopping at the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on Ogletown Road.
That’s when the car suddenly veered across the centerline into the opposing lane.
“I said, ‘Charles what are you doing?’ and when I looked over, he was passed out behind the wheel. All I saw was the steering wheel and brake,” Diana said.
From the passenger seat, she was able to slow the vehicle, guide it onto the parking side of the opposing lane and stop. Fortunately, there were no oncoming vehicles, the couple noted.
“I got out and was waving my heads and saying, ‘Please help me,’ Several cars went by before a man stopped and pulled into one of the driveways. He called 911,” Diana recalled, noting that approximately 30 seconds elapsed before he arrived and heeded her call for help.
Seconds later, a second man stopped to assist, Diana said. Together, she added, the good Samaritans performed CPR on her husband inside the car. Then Barnes and Whitehead arrived, as did Richie seconds later.
“As Cpl. Barnes was removing Mr. Rader from the vehicle, Cpl. Ritchie was driving by and stopped to assist. Cpl. Ritchie started chest compressions, as Officer Whitehead prepared the AED. A shock was delivered and lifesaving efforts continued,” outlined Lt. Fred Nelson, an NPD spokesman.
Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company EMTs and New Castle County paramedics arrived and assumed care of Charles, he reported.
Charles was taken to Christiana Hospital, where, he was placed in a medically-induced coma and was put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. After the coma was halted several hours later, Charles was able to respond to commands, such as giving a thumbs up.
“He had brain activity,” Diana said.
Charles remained in the hospital for a week and, after doctors diagnosed the problem that caused his cardiac arrest, a procedure was performed to place a defibrillator in his body.
“If it happens again, the defibrillator will give him a shock to get his heartbeat back to normal,” Diana said.
Back at home and on his feet again, Charles wanted to personally thank the people who saved his life, a sentiment shared by Diana.
“It was very important to meet the guys who helped. I’m so glad this happened in Newark,” Diana said, explaining that it might have been harder to flag down help on a major highway on which the speed limit is higher.
The thank-you meeting at NPD’s station lasted about 30 minutes.
“It was emotional for me. But it got a little light-hearted. Some things came out that were a little funny,” Charles said, noting that one of the good Samaritans revealed that the CPR technique he used was one he had learned in seventh grade, many years ago.
Charles said he has great gratitude for the good Samaritans and officers who save his life, commenting, “I would do anything for any of them. They wouldn’t even have to ask twice.”
Charles Rader (red shirt) and his wife, Diana (at his side), reunite with the two Newark Police Department officers and the two good Samaritans who saved his life when he went into cardiac arrest last month.