WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -
A Murray County man lost his life early Tuesday morning when his car ran off the roadway and hit a tree on the Dalton Bypass. Police say the man was experiencing chest pains and was trying to drive himself to the hospital when the accident happened.
The victim in the crash has been identified as 52-year-old Olen Roberts from Chatsworth. While emergency responders say their thoughts are with the man's family, they point out there are some potential dangers that come with trying to drive yourself to the hospital during a medical emergency.
"We got a 911 call that a gentleman was trying to make it to Hamilton Medical Center with chest pains," says Bruce Frazier with the Dalton Police Department.
Just before 4:30 Tuesday morning, Olen Roberts' wife called to let emergency services know her husband was racing to Hamilton Medical Center for help but he never made it.
"Shortly after 5 o'clock in the morning on the bypass, somebody called 911 and said they'd seen somebody leave the roadway," says Frazier.
Debris still sits in the grass where Roberts' car ran off the Dalton Bypass near Vista Drive. His red sedan crossed all lanes of traffic, hitting a tree.
"The driver of another car was behind the victim in this crash. He said the vehicle left the roadway. He didn't see any brake lights. He didn't see any evidence that the driver was trying to get back on the roadway."
Those clues led investigators to believe Roberts lost consciousness. Emergency responders say while it may seem scary, it is safest to pull your car over and call 911.
"If you're having some kind of medical condition as you're driving down the road, if you do lose consciousness, you're car's no longer controlled and you face the very real possibility of involving somebody else," says Frazier.
"If you get EMS involved quickly they can take over, keep you comfortable, make the transport much safer," says Dr. R. Benjamin Lambert, an emergency physician at Hamilton Medical Center.
Lambert says while en route to the hospital EMTs can take vital signs and send in EKG readings to the emergency room so doctors are better prepared to treat you when you come through the doors.
"We know that before the ambulance even gets here and we can go ahead and have the cath lab and cardiology notified," says Dr. Lambert.
"We're thankful no one else was hurt. And obviously it's tragic whenever someone loses their life, so our thoughts are with this gentleman's family and friends," says Frazier.
Investigators still are not sure if Roberts' medical condition or the crash killed him. They are hoping an autopsy will help provide those answers. ___________________________________________________________
PREVIOUS STORY: Dalton police have identified the driver of the car as 52-year-old Olen Roberts of Chatsworth.
Investigators tell Channel 3 they believe Roberts experienced some sort of medical emergency that caused the crash.
About 4:30am, 911 dispatchers received a report that a man was trying to drive to Hamilton Medical Center with chest pains and alerted officers to be on the lookout for his red Honda Civic.
A witness reported seeing a westbound vehicle at about 5:07 am that matched the description, leave the roadway on the bypass near Vista Drive and striking a tree.
A witness told investigators that Roberts apparently made no effort to brake the vehicle or to steer back onto the roadway before hitting the tree.