PORTLAND, Oregon (KGW) – Robert Hooper was just doing his job, loading a disabled vehicle onto his flatbed tow truck, when he made a decision that likely saved the life of another man Monday afternoon.
One of his clients mentioned that there was something odd down the 50-foot embankment nearby. Hooper decided to walk over and take a look.
He saw what looked like a crumpled car and hiked down the steep hill along Highway 20 to check it out.
“When I walked down to it, I realized there was a body laying there,” Hooper recalled. “There was definitely a flood of emotions.”
The body was wedged between the car and a tree stump. Hooper yelled to call police to his clients waiting along the highway above. He thought the driver was dead.
“He was motionless,” Hooper said. “But then he lifted his arm up and mumbled, ‘Help.'”
Stephen Akkerman had waited nearly seven hours, crushed under the wreckage, for help.
Hooper bent down and pushed away the thick brush so he could see the man’s face. He told him to stay calm, that help was on the way. He did everything he could think of to comfort the stranger.
“He kept asking me to push the car away. I kept telling him to stop moving because I didn’t want him to hurt himself even more,” Hooper said. “You cold see the pain on his face.”
It wasn’t long before police and paramedics arrived and took over. Hooper saw a car seat in the back of the car and wondered if he was also a dad.
Sweet Home is a small town and Hooper, 32, graduated from high school there. He wondered if he knew the man he helped rescue. But Hooper said the victim’s face was indistinguishable because of the severe injuries.
Whether he knew him or not, Hooper was just glad he happened to be there at the right time.
“Honestly, I just feel happy I was able to help that guy out and hopefully he makes it,” Hooper said. “I would just hope that anybody else would do the same.”
He posted on Facebook about his harrowing day and hoped to learn more about the man he helped save.