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Witnesses honored for saving driver who had medical emergency

Dennis McNea rescue ceremony
Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 21:00:50-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Five people who witnessed a potentially deadly situation were honored by the California Highway Patrol Friday to taking action that helped save a man's life.

Dennis McNea is a driver for the Freeway Service Patrol. His job is to help stranded motorists. But Nov. 13, 2019, he was driving on State Route 94 when he suffered a medical emergency.

"Almost hit me," said witness Gina de la Torre, a Navy sailor who was on her way home at the time. "And as I saw him, he was hitting the highway barrier and I noticed that he was slumped over in his car."

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Another witness, Alberto Robles, used his own truck to make contact with McNea's, slowing them both down to a stop. The other four, including de la Torre, stopped to help.

"They just kind of stopped and looked at me like, 'What do we do?'" she told 10News. "So that's when I was like, okay, keep calm and just do whatever you have to do."

They performed CPR until medics arrived.

"I don't remember what happened to me at all," McNea said. "I woke up in the hospital a couple of days later. I was told what happened."

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McNea said it was emotional when he finally got the chance to meet each of his rescuers at a ceremony put on by CHP Friday.

"A million thanks is not enough. They gave me a lottery ticket. They gave me life. You can have a billion dollars, but you can't buy life, and they gave me life," McNea said.

McNea has since returned to work. He says he plans to take CPR training so he can provide the same life-saving support he received to others in need.