PALM HARBOR (FOX 13) - A PSTA transit bus was in the right turn lane on Nebraska Avenue, approaching US-19, when the driver suffered a medical emergency and lost control.
The bus lurched forward, hitting a total of eight vehicles. The crash closed southbound lanes of US-19 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday.
It all happened quickly, according to witnesses, but the harrowing moments after the bus came to a stop seemed like a lifetime for Crystal Moore.
She isn’t a doctor or nurse, but she is a concerned mother who always wants to be prepared. That’s why she took a CPR training class.
Thursday was the first time she put that training into action – helping to save the life of the bus driver.
“I said to myself, ‘Lord, just give this man some breaths,’” Moore remembered saying when as she administered life-saving care to the driver, 56-year-old John Klimaszewski, of St. Petersburg.
Moore was just a few cars back when Klimaszewski’s bus started crashing into cars on Nebraska Avenue.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the bus first hit the car in front of it, a Toyota Camry. It kept moving and hit a Chevrolet Cruz that was turning in front of the bus, across Nebraska Ave.
The PSTA bus rolled into the southbound lanes, hitting six more vehicles that were either moving or stopped at the traffic light for US-19 at Nebraska Ave.
Once the bus stopped, Moore ran over to help.
“He has no pulse, so I started screaming, ‘Get him on the ground so I can perform CPR immediately!’” Moore said.
She said he was unconscious and slumped over in his seat.
Pinellas County deputies Timothy McTaggart and Kevin Carey happened to be nearby and both arrived on the scene. As people helped get Klimaszewski onto the ground and the deputies worked to get their safety equipment, Moore gave him mouth-to-mouth and administered more than 30 chest compressions.
“We were able to get him from behind the wheel and put him on the ground and while we are trying to get our safety equipment ready to go ahead and administered CPR, she just jumped right in and started doing chest compressions which was a huge help,” Deputy Kevin Carey said.
“I just kept going and two officers actually came behind me and said, ‘I can take over for you,’” remembered Moore.
“We probably did CPR for approximately two minutes and then he started breathing on his own,” Deputy Timothy McTaggard said.
But it was still unclear to Moore if the man who she helped resuscitate would survive.
Thursday evening, she got the call she hoped for. Deputies told Moore that Klimaszewski pulled through. He was still in critical condition Thursday evening.