Sen. Frist aids wreck victims in Broward
Published: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 2:13 a.m.
MIAMI - Incoming Senate majority leader Bill Frist, a surgeon, helped tend to six victims of a rollover accident on a Florida highway New Year's Day, earning praise from paramedics for stabilizing some of the four survivors.
Frist, R-Tenn., a full time heart and lung surgeon before joining the Senate eight years ago, is replacing Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who stepped down as majority leader in December after making a racist comment.
An Isuzu Rodeo with six people aboard was heading west on Alligator Alley when it rolled over three to four miles west of the toll plaza in Broward County at 3:51 p.m., Broward Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Todd Leduc said. All six, including three children, were thrown out as the vehicle rolled. A 10-year-old girl died on the scene; another passenger died later at a hospital.
Frist, 50, was driving east on the highway, the Everglades portion of Interstate 75, heading to a family vacation home in Fort Lauderdale with his two sons when he came across the accident minutes after it happened, said Nick Smith, Frist's communications director in Washington.
He stopped and went to work checking the victims. When paramedics arrived, he pointed them to the ones in the most severe condition. Frist helped paramedics and several off-duty firefighters stabilize the victims until they were transported to area hospitals after about 30 minutes.
"Senator Frist greatly assisted Broward County Fire Rescue. The Senate majority leader was really instrumental in helping us treat the victims," Leduc said. "We'd like to get in contact with him and recognize him for his efforts."
The injured victims were transported to Broward General Hospital in Fort Lauderdale and Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Leduc said. A 12-year-old was in critical condition. Authorities didn't release their identities.
"As a doctor, my first instincts are to help, and I was privileged to offer my assistance at the scene of this horrible accident," Frist said later Wednesday in a statement. "My heart goes out to this family which must face the start of the new year with this terrible tragedy."
Frist also returned Leduc's praise.
"I also want to commend the outstanding performance of the emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officers who responded with tremendous professionalism and expertise," he said in the statement.
The accident, about 35 miles northwest of Miami, jammed traffic on the busy highway well into the evening, creating a 12-mile backup at one time, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Frist has helped other people in medical emergencies.
On July 25, 1998, when a gunman opened fire in the U.S. Capitol, killing two police officers and wounding other people, Frist rushed to help the victims. He treated one man who had been shot in the face and helped load him into an ambulance, and performed CPR on another man with a chest wound and rode with him to the hospital.
In 1995, Frist revived a 60-year-old man who collapsed inside a Senate office building.
And when Sen. Strom Thurmond, D-South Carolina, collapsed on the Senate floor on Oct. 2, 2001, Frist ran from a nearby meeting to his aid.
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