When John Barlow set out on the M62 with his family on Saturday, he had simply planned to pick up a new kitten for his seven-year-old son.
But when, on their way, the engineer and the martial arts instructor spotted a car driving erratically in the fast lane, he ended up taking an unplanned detour that saved his life.
After trying to get the driver’s attention and seeing that the man, who was driving at around 50 km/h, was unconscious, he boldly decided to drive in front of the car at the same speed, before braking very slowly for the car to crash into his vehicle and come to a stop.
He later discovered that he had performed a controlled stop, although he had never done one before.
He then jumped out of his car in an attempt to save the man. Another driver helped him force his way into the car and he cleared the airway of the man, who is over 70, and worked with others to save his life.
Amazingly, his car escaped largely unscathed and he and Joey still managed to collect the Burmese kitten, Chip, from Scunthorpe and bring him back to Middleton, Greater Manchester.
When Barlow, 59, first spotted the car and saw the unconscious man behind the wheel, he was convinced he was dead.
“I walked into the mid lane and motioned for him to move and motioned my hands to move in front of me, to escort him to the hard shoulder,” he said. he declares. But when the man didn’t answer, he stopped beside him and saw that he was not well.
“He was almost completely gray and his lips were blue, and there was blood and vomit and stuff running down his chin,” Barlow said.
“I said to my wife, ‘I think he’s dead…I can’t let go. [the car] go down the highway like this.
He rolled in front of him before braking very slowly. “When he hit me the first time, my little boy was screaming, but I couldn’t do anything. We had already decided so we were going to try to stop him,” he said.
After unsuccessfully trying to break the glass of the locked door with his elbow, another driver helped him in with a hammer.
Having recently taken a first aid refresher course, he remembered pulling the man’s head back to help him breathe – “it was like a very tense gurgling sound” before he don’t do it – in front of two women with medical knowledge followed by an off-duty doctor with a defibrillator came to his rescue, until the paramedics arrived. “It was a team effort,” Barlow said.
He later found out that the man had been released from the hospital and had had a seizure.
The car suffered a few scratches and a slightly bent frame under the bumper, but he said there was “nothing to worry about”.
Looking back, Barlow thinks his actions may have been “a bit stupid”, but at the time he was determined to help. “You just do things, don’t you, without thinking about it sometimes,” he added.
Overall, however, it was a rewarding experience. “All you get is bad news, right,” he said, adding, “It’s about muggings and this and that, and everyone thinks [about] the state of the world and then you see something like this and realize that the majority of people are decent.
West Yorkshire Police said they received a report of a disabled vehicle between Junctions 29 and 30 of the M62 shortly after 3.15pm on Saturday and discovered a potentially serious collision had been averted thanks to the actions of ‘a driver.
A force spokesman said: ‘When officers arrived at the scene, it was determined that the driver of the car, a man in his 60s, had a medical episode. It was also established that the car had been brought to a safe stop by another motorist, thus avoiding any risk of a serious collision.
“Emergency services were asked to attend and a road closure was put in place while the man was taken to hospital for further treatment.”