CLEARWATER — A respiratory therapist on her way to work early Monday helped revive a lifeless pedestrian whom she had accidentally hit with her vehicle on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.
Patricia Syraski, 50, and a doctor who stopped to help performed CPR on the man until paramedics arrived.
The man, who has not been identified by authorities, was crossing Gulf-to-Bay in the predawn darkness from the south side, near Keene Road, but was not in a crosswalk, according to Clearwater police.
The victim was taken to Bayfront Medical Center by helicopter. He was in critical condition Monday afternoon, police said.
Syraski, who lives in Clearwater and works at Tampa General Hospital, said the man came "out of nowhere." He was wearing blue jeans and appeared to be in his mid 20s, she said.
Syraski said she pulled her blue Chevy Avalanche over and went to check on the man, who was not breathing and did not have a pulse.
She flagged down some passing motorists — including one woman who called 911 — and began chest compressions.
Just before a doctor stopped to help, Syraski noticed faint signs of life, she said. The doctor took over chest compressions while Syraski checked for breathing signs, she said.
"We got a pulse," Syraski said. "I could see he was breathing now." She put her jacket over the man to shield him from the early morning chill, and soon paramedics arrived.
The accident, which happened about 6 a.m., shut down Gulf-to-Bay in both directions for about an hour. Westbound lanes reopened shortly after 7 a.m., and eastbound lanes at 9:20 a.m.
No charges are expected, Clearwater police said.
Monday's incident was the second time in about a decade that Syraski rushed to aid an accident victim. Years ago, on the Courtney Campbell Parkway, she stopped to help a motorcyclist who was ejected after being hit by a car. Syraski helped to perform CPR on the man, but he died from his injuries, she said.
Syraski said Monday that her instincts kicked in and she encouraged others to learn CPR, just in case.
"It was a terrible situation that hopefully has a good outcome," she said. "I wish well for the man's family, and I hope he's okay."