Driver jumps into action when dump truck driver has medical emergency on I-35W

There was a heroic moment on Interstate 35W on Monday, when a young man jumped into action to help a driver who was suffering a medical emergency.

Twenty-year-old Justin Mathes was following a dump truck on I-35W, driven by his co-worker at a local asphalt company. They were heading to their next job when the truck started swerving.

Mathes said his friend unexpectedly got off at the 60th Street exit.

“It was just a gut feeling something telling me that this is not right, something’s wrong and I’ve got to do something,” he said.

Mathes told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he quickly parked his vehicle behind the dump truck and ran after it. The truck, he said, was going about 10 to 15 miles per hour down the ramp.

“I just booked it, I wanted to make sure no one else could get hurt because it’s a busy exit,” he said, noting there’s a Cub Foods around the corner. “When I was able to jump onto the running board and grab onto the handle, he was unconscious. I flung open the door and did what I had to do.”

Mathes told us he grabbed his co-worker to keep from falling out of the vehicle and stepped on the brake. He then spotted the emergency brake and pulled it, to prevent the truck from barreling into the busy intersection ahead.

“It was really, really close,” said Mathes.

He said it was hard to believe what was happening. Before they left their previous work site, his co-worker seemed fine.

“We were making jokes and hanging out and working hard,” said Mathes. “One minute he’s fine then on the road, something happened.”

He’s now waiting to hear how his co-worker is doing, hoping for the best.

“He’s been a good friend and he’s been teaching me a lot on the job and I’m glad I could help him,” said Mathes. “I know if I was in his scenario that he would do the same for me.”

Minnesota State Patrol told KSTP they arrived on scene around 12:30 p.m. and transported the driver to Southdale Hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening.

They are still investigating the crash. According to State Patrol, only a roadway sign was damaged in the incident.

“I think I was really lucky to be there, something told me that something’s wrong here and if I’m able to help out, I’ll do whatever I can,” said Mathes. “I’m just glad I made the right call.”

Mathes is the son of an employee at Hubbard Broadcasting.