PALM HARBOR — Paul Vios and Rob Hanley have worked together at Vios' moving and storage company for so long, they tend to anticipate what the other is thinking.
So there wasn't much dialogue when the two drove up on an unusual scene Friday morning: a white sedan stopped at an angle in the middle of Curlew Road. Without discussion, the two leapt into action.
Their actions may well have saved a man who appeared to be having a seizure and also prevented a potentially deadly traffic accident.
It all started around 9 a.m. on Curlew just west of U.S. 19, Vios said.
Vios, owner of Paul Hauls Moving and Storage, was driving a company work truck with Hanley riding shotgun. When Vios pulled up next to the car, he and Hanley saw the driver slumped over.
"His head is mostly in the passenger seat. His arms are flailing, and he's having full-blown convulsions," Vios said. "It looked like a seizure to me."
Vios, 41, of Palm Harbor pulled in front of the car. He and Hanley jumped out. Immediately, the car began to roll, they said. It jumped the median, heading the wrong way in the westbound lanes. Traffic started flowing toward them, morning commuters coming from busy U.S. 19.
Vios ran into the road and began flagging cars down, telling them to stop, asking drivers to call 911. He tried the passenger door of the white sedan. Locked.
Hanley, 36, of Pasco County, rushed to the driver's side door and flung it open. As the car continued rolling, he threw his right leg into the vehicle and hit the brakes.
It was all instinct, Hanley said.
"There was oncoming traffic, but we didn't even pay attention to that," he said. "We were just focused on getting the guy to safety."
Hanley has worked for Vios for seven years. Vios brushed aside any notion of heroism, but lauded Hanley for his quick thinking and said his actions would not come as a surprise to those who know him.
"He's like a hero for my customers, every day. They love him," Vios said. "He's got a heart the size of Texas."
Both men said they know each other well enough that they often know what the other is thinking.
"We tuned into each other's frequency," Hanley said. "Being on the same page there, we just instinctively worked together as a team."
Officials with Palm Harbor Fire Rescue confirmed the good Samaritans' efforts, but declined to release the driver's name, citing concerns for his medical privacy. Vios said the man, who looked to be in his 60s, was conscious and talking when paramedics arrived.
"It's not every day you jump into a moving car and stop it from careening into oncoming traffic," Vios said.
Rita Farlow can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.