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Dental hygienist's quick thinking, defibrillator save life of stricken driver

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: Texas Museums

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FORT WORTH -- Dental hygienists in Dr. Gary Pointer's dentist office were preparing for their first patients Monday morning when a cabinet, pieces of wall and several bricks exploded into the hall.

"Oh, my God! There's a car in my room," hygienist Jessica Weyman yelled.

Co-worker Julie Watson rushed to the scene, where two men had pulled the driver out of the car and placed him on the grass in front of the office in the 4900 block of Bryant Irvin Road.

Witnesses said they believe the driver is Ron Tyler, who had retired in April as the director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

Watson said that he was unconscious and had no pulse; his whitish-blue color indicated that he'd had a heart attack.

Watson "was totally in control" and yelled for people to bring gloves, towels and the clinic's automated external defibrillator, Weyman said.

"We always tease in CPR class, 'I hope I don't ever have to use this,'" said Watson, a hygienist for 11 years at the clinic. "Today was my day to use it."

Weyman said Watson shocked the man once with the defibrillator, then started CPR.

"She was textbook," Weyman said. "It was incredible to see the color come back into his face."

Weyman said that emergency responders praised Watson's coolness and expertise.

"The EMTs said Julie saved his life," she said. "He was responsive when they put him into an ambulance."

Tyler, in his late 60s, was listed in fair condition at Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth, said hospital spokeswoman Whitney Jodry.

"We're very pleased to hear that Dr. Tyler is doing well," said museum spokeswoman Jessica Pool.

A witness said that the vehicle was traveling southbound on Bryant Irvin Road about 8:05 a.m. when his car crossed a pair of northbound lanes and plowed through a brick-and-wood fence at the entrance to Dance Concept, a building across Manhattan Drive from the clinic. The car scattered bricks and other debris as it crossed Manhattan and smashed through a brick wall into the northwest corner of Pointer's clinic.

The crash was a chain of seeming miracles, a witness said.

Debbi Jo Utter, the director at Dance Concept, said she was standing in front of the building's entrance -- in the path the car took -- about two minutes before the crash.

The studio is being remodeled, and Utter was waiting for painters.

"I was parked in the drive-through and the thought struck me that the painters might need to park there," she said.

Utter moved her Mustang to another parking lot, walked back through the building and had just stepped to the glass front door when the car zipped by her.

"It was so fast, like a tenth of a second," she said. "It sounded like a transformer blew. It left two big bumpers behind and took the bricks and the wood of the fence with it."

The timing also was fortunate, Utter said.

"If this had been in the afternoon and we were open, there could have been a dozen kids out there [in front of the door]," she said.

Pointer and his wife, Denise, drove Watson home to Weatherford, and she took the rest of the day off.

Watson said that, as the adrenaline began to wear off, she became emotional.

"When it was over, I cried," she said. "It makes you realize how fragile life is."

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

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