Trucker, employee hailed as heroes for saving man’s life at Ottawa truck stop

OTTAWA, Kan. -- A California truck driver is lucky to be alive thanks to another trucker and an employee at an Ottawa, Kansas, truck stop.

Robert Thurlow walked into the Love's convenience store at 3 a.m Monday to use the restroom.

"As soon as you open the door, it`s like a shock. Here's this person with nothing but blood everywhere," Thurlow said.

The California truck driver had a PICC line attached to a vein in his arm from a medical procedure. It came loose as he was driving on Interstate 35, miles from nowhere.

"I can't imagine driving one of these literally while holding another arm so that I`m not bleeding to death and going 30 minutes to do it," Thurlow said.

As the driver ran into the Love's, leaving behind a trail of blood, he left no doubt he was in bad shape.

Robert Thurlow

"It happened so quickly. There was literally enough time for him to essentially open the door and voice the words, 'I'm bleeding to death,'" Thurlow said.

The employee behind the counter, Nicole, had studied to be a medical assistant; Thurlow was a former Boy Scout.

"Those things stick with you when you become adult even though I got those merit badges when I was an early teen," he said.

Thurlow grabbed a tarp strap from the shelf. Nicole grabbed a shirt.

"When you are in that moment, I think a lot of does come down to having the right caring personality and the right person to jump in and help," Love's Manager Jessica Wright said.

Thurlow applied the tourniquet while Nicole pulled out a first aid kit complete with gloves and called 911.

"It's a risk sure, but I was more concerned to be honest that he was going to die," Thurlow said.

As first responders arrived and removed the tourniquet in place of one of their own, the blood splattered more than 10 feet in the air. Employees would spend the rest of the morning cleaning up.

"Just jumping in as if they are their own family member, it really is a proud moment," Wright said.

Ottawa police posted a summary of Monday morning's events on Facebook, calling it a "Hero Alert."

"I would hope, in all honesty, anybody would do it for me," Thurlow said.

In a phone interview, the employee said she didn't think of herself as a hero at first, but is just glad that man is expected to be OK.

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