ONLY ON 13: Pregnant nurse practitioner rescues elderly man who drove off Thruway bridge

Nurse rescues elderly man after driving off bridge

Only On 13: the nurse who came to the rescue at a terrifying scene, a wrong way driver plunging off a thruway bridge.

A nurse practitioner came to the rescue at a terrifying scene when a wrong-way driver plunged off a Thruway bridge.

Eyewitnesses said a woman wearing hospital scrubs provided medical attention to an 84-year-old man after he drove off the bridge.

That woman is Chrissy Shepard.

“Kind of surreal when you come around the bend and something that doesn’t belong there, but you don’t maybe realize what’s going on until you take a minute to stop and see what’s going on,” she said.

The crash happened around 6 p.m. Tuesday at Exit 22 in Selkirk. The same exit Shepard takes to get home to Ravena.

She said she had just gotten off a 10-hour shift at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown.

“The gentleman did eject into the passenger side. I went down there. Collectively tried to see if he was conscious and made the decision that he didn’t have paralysis. If he could wiggle himself out that would be the best option for him.”

Miraculously, he did.

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With no medical kit and only Shepard’s experience to help her in this emergency, she said she was able to evaluate the man because of her specialized trauma training.

“Focusing on neurological status, focusing on airwaves, focusing on breathing and circulation,” Shepard said about her ATLS training (advanced trauma life support).

Investigators believe the 84-year-old man suffered a medical emergency before the crash and was taken to Albany Med for minor injuries.

Shepard said the man was disoriented but was able to speak. He was grateful for all the help.

“After I left work, I had already taken off my cap – my healthcare cap – and I put on my mom’s cap. When I’m in the car, I’m thinking mom mode, but when I saw this I said, ‘I have to take my mom cap off, put on my healthcare cap.'”

Shepard is also 27 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. Being pregnant, she said, did not slow her down.

“I don’t even notice. I’m in the OR (operating room) all day. I’m doing this at work all day. If anything, it was just hard to jump over the guardrail and people helped with that.”

Those bystanders not only helped Shepard get to the 84-year-old man, but those people also made sure the man was physically OK, said Shepard.

“Someone was literally giving their jacket to put on the ground for this guy, someone else was making sure that the car wasn’t on fire. Even though they noticed some fluid leaking, others – just for support,” Shepard said. “It was a collective group effort and I think everyone should be proud of what happened that day and that time.”