Doug Waldrop knelt for 40 minutes in the pouring rain over a woman heart attack victim lying in the middle of a downtown Richmond Street last Monday, pounding on her chest in an attempt to save her life.
And for 40 minutes, rush-hour Richmond motorists trying to get to work on the two-lane thorough-fare carefully steered around them and drove on.
Yesterday the woman, Thelma Qualls, 57, a supervisor at the Philip Morris Co. who was driving to her first day on the job since recuperating from a heart attack last November, died in a hospital intensive care unit. And Doug Waldrop, a former Vietnam medevac helicopter pilot, was thoroughly disgusted.
"I'd love to have a list of the names and telephone numbers of all those people who drove around us. "I'd like to ask them how come they didn't stop," said Waldrop, a supervisor for a local construction firm and a volunteer rescue worker.
Waldrop, who said yesterday he has been besieged by business groups bestowing honors for his act and inviting him to speak about it, at first didn't stop either. He drove past the woman, who was parked awkwardly on busy 18th Street and waving vehicles around her.
When curiosity prompted him to return, he asked the heavy-set Qualls to step out of her car. She promptly collapsed on him.
One other motorist finally did stop to direct traffic from the scene and summon an ambulance. Waldrop said Qualls' heart stopped and started three times before the rescue vehicle arrived and that a half hour's time would have tripled her chances for survival.
A spokesman for Medical College of Virginia, where Qualls was taken, would say only that "the longer the rescue attempt lasts, the less likely the victim will survive" and that the length of time Waldrop worked on her must have been "extremely difficult and taxing."