A Maine State Police trooper is being credited with helping to save the life of a driver he pulled over who was overdosing on heroin, and the traffic stop could have prevented a crash as well.

Trooper Douglas Cropper pulled over a Volkswagen Jetta about 6:15 a.m. Friday on the Fore River Bridge on Interstate 295 southbound in Portland after he spotted it traveling more than 15 mph over the speed limit. Cropper took the license and registration from the male driver – whom police would not identify because of health privacy laws – returned to his cruiser and wrote him a ticket.

When Cropper went back to the car with the ticket, the man’s head was tilted back, his mouth was open and he was unresponsive.

A cruiser camera video shows Cropper trying to wake up the man, then dragging him from the car onto the road, where he starts to massage the man’s chest.

“I thought he had nodded off. Then he started to turn blue from lack of oxygen,” Cropper said during a news conference at the Troop G state police barracks in Portland.

Cropper alerted a dispatcher that he needed a rescue crew and continued trying to resuscitate the man, who didn’t appear to have a pulse. As he was ministering to the man, who was lying on the pavement alongside his car, traffic whizzed by at highway speed.


Leon Chick, an emergency room nurse who was driving by, stopped and immediately started applying chest compressions. Cropper took over and soon afterward the man made a gurgling noise and Chick felt a pulse.

“I had my hand on his chest and his heart was pounding when he was coming around,” Cropper said. “His color started coming back a little bit. He was breathing a lot stronger on his own.”

Portland rescue workers arrived and took over the treatment. They administered Narcan, a medicine that reverses the effects of drugs such as heroin, and the man was able to walk on his own, though he was still dazed. Cropper is heard on the video saying: “Welcome back, buddy.”

The man was taken to a local hospital.

Cropper said he spoke to the man later. The man admitted that he had taken heroin in the parking lot of a Dunkin’ Donuts before getting on the highway to go to his job. Cropper noted that the man was muscular, like a body-builder, had a job and a nice car.

But it was the second time this week he had overdosed and had to be resuscitated, Cropper said.


“This gentleman just overdosed three days ago,” Cropper said. “Portland dealt with him, he still had large scarring on his chest from where his friends were doing sternum rubs.”

“He said he needed a kick in the head,” Cropper recounted. “‘I said this is the kick you get.'”

Police found drug paraphernalia in the car, but so far the man has been issued only a traffic citation. He likely will face more charges later.

Cropper has done similar things in other high-profile incidents, most notably one in 2012, when he raced ahead of a car going the wrong way on I-295 in Portland. Cropper crashed his cruiser into the wrong-way driver, likely averting a more serious crash.

Earlier in 2012, Cropper received a commendation for recovering the victims of a double homicide in New Gloucester. With other officers, he retrieved the two bodies while risking gunfire. And in 2005, he chased a driver on I-295 at speeds up to 130 mph before arresting the driver.

Friday’s incident is another indication of the growing severity of the heroin addiction problem in Maine. Heroin has become inexpensive relative to prescription painkillers and has seen a resurgence as a drug of choice, police say.

Cropper said he was glad he pulled the man over when he did, possibly averting a high-speed crash that could have injured or killed another motorist.

“Who knows how much farther along the road he would have gone and started to overdose, drive off the road and killed himself – or even worse, crashed into someone else, some innocent person going to work?” he said.

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