LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - An Iowa, La. man is thanking a group of first responders who literally brought him back to life earlier this year. Preston Manuel believes the 3 police officers and fireman who responded to his February accident are Hometown Heroes.
On February 11, 2020, Preston Manuel was heading home on Interstate 10 in Sulphur. A.J. Powell had left work a little early at the Sulphur Police Department and was right behind Manuel.
It was at the intersection of I-10 and Cities Service Highway that Officer Powell noticed Manuel weaving in and out of traffic at only 30 miles per hour.
"He probably thought I was drunk," joked Manuel. "Weaving in and out of traffic? He thought I was drunk and needed to stop me."
Powell witnessed Manuel's car being struck by an 18-wheeler and getting pushed into a construction barrier. He got out of his car to check on Manuel.
"His door is locked," recalled Powell. "He's slumped over the center console. I can't get the door open. I knew he was having some issues so I break the window, unlock the door and open it. I go to feel for a pulse and I really don't feel any. He's kind of gagging. I thought, man he's having a heart attack."
Powell called for assistance and began CPR immediately. Sulphur police officers Benton Barnett and Justin Duplichain arrived along with firefighter Richard Wingard. They rotated with Powell to try and revive Manuel.
"You know, somebody saves your life, that means a lot," said Manuel. "These guys, they worked on me about 10 minutes."
Powell is a 14 year veteran of the Sulphur Police Department and teaches CPR at the Training Academy. He knows he and the other first responders were at the right place at the right time.
"God's gonna do whatever he's gonna do," said Powell. "An EMT or paramedic's job is just to entertain him until He decides. So apparently He wasn't done with him and I just kept him entertained until He figured out maybe they're not done and he'll stick around.
"I'm telling you straight, I owe my life to them," said Manuel.
Manuel says he still has very little memory of what happened but is thankful Officer Powell was behind him that day. He could be facing triple bypass surgery this fall. Manuel says he’s looking foward to taking his 4 CPR heroes out to lunch one day.