When a man crashed his car into the concrete median on Interstate 85 near Freedom Drive on Christmas Day, Shahida McIntyre didn’t think twice before pulling over to help him. She was the perfect person for the situation – McIntyre is a CPR instructor who has worked in medicine.
“I’m just a single mommy trying to do the right thing,” she said.
Robert Steen, 80, suffered a heart attack while he was driving his black Lexus sedan. McIntyre called 911 and performed CPR on Steen. Medical personnel arrived and took Steen to Carolinas Medical Center.
Steen, who was from Atlanta,died two days later at the hospital.
He arrived at CMC in critical condition. He appeared to have no injuries from the accident itself, a responding state trooper said.
McIntyre was on her way to the emergency room with her children when Steen crashed at about 2:30 p.m. She had been admitted the week before with strep throat and was taking her oldest daughter to the hospital for treatment for an illness.
McIntyre said she was in the third lane and Steen in the second when he began to swerve, hitting the barrier multiple times before sliding to a stop. She immediately pulled to the side and backed the car up until she was near the wreck.
McIntyre told her children to stay put and rushed out of her car. She saw Steen slumped in the passenger seat.
When she looked to call 911, she realized she had left her phone in the car.
“We always keep our phones glued to our hands,” she said with a laugh. “And I realized I didn’t have mine.
“When I got to the car, my mom called. I said, ‘Good grief, I can’t talk!’ ”
While she talked with the 911 operator, McIntyre attempted to get into Steen’s locked car. She ran to her vehicle and came back with a baseball bat she keeps in her minivan.
After three raps on the window with the bat, she broke the glass. McIntyre pulled Steen, who she estimated was about 200 pounds, by his belt onto the road and began to perform CPR.
“It seemed like forever and nobody would stop,” she said. “I kept pounding and counting and looking down the highway to see if the trucks would come up the road.”
Her three girls, ages 8 and 10, watched from the back window of her van.
“You know children – they always have this big-eyed look,” she said. “But they did really well because they didn’t get out of the car. I was really proud of them.”
McIntyre said she has been certified in CPR since 1992 and became certified as an instructor about a year ago.
“Working at the hospital, you hear code blue and know that someone needs CPR,” she said. “But I’ve never had to perform it in an emergency situation and definitely not on the side of the road.”
McIntyre has worked in medicine in the past with a master’s degree in health care administration. She is currently working as a substitute teacher for Gaston County Schools while she earns her MBA. She said her goal is to be a nurse educator.
McIntyre said she always stops at accidents because she often drives by herself and would want someone to do the same for her.
“I worry about that too, being alone and nobody stops to help you,” she said. “I don’t think anyone should have to die alone.”
Steen’s funeral is planned at Whitley’s Funeral Home in Kannapolis on Saturday at 2 p.m.