PHOENIX — Of the unusual things usually seen on the side of Interstate 17, an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper and a civilian pushing someone in a wheelchair next to rushing traffic ranks pretty high.
Roadway cameras captured that exact scene recently, and the story behind it is one of a dead battery and a couple of helping hands.
Andrew Doss Jr., 87, usually doesn't let anything stop him. Serving four years in the Navy gave him a strong work ethic, but injuries have made him dependent on his electric wheelchair.
“Oh yeah, I go everywhere with this, that’s the only thing I got," Doss said.
The veteran was on the way to visit his son around noon when he got to the I-17 and Greenway Road on-ramp when something finally stopped him: his wheelchair's battery died.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Lucas Adams was the first to respond after a passerby called the police. His task: get Doss up the incline and out of the 100-degree heat.
“I just felt so bad for him," Adams said. “As I pulled up and talked to him, I could tell he had been sweating profusely and it looked like he had been there for a while”
The ADOT footage shows Adams trying to push the wheelchair up the off-ramp numerous times, each time not being able to get Doss to the top.
“He’d push me up and I would go down," Doss said. "He’d push me again and I rolled down. I said ‘once I get to the top I should have enough juice to get me in on my own.’ Then somebody intervened and helped."
The footage shows another passerby joining Adams to push the last few yards up the incline.
“Unfortunately, the way the DPS vehicles are set up, there’s not much room to carry something big like that. And I didn’t want to leave it out there in case another vehicle accidentally struck it and I didn’t also want to leave it there in case, for some reason, someone came by and took it," Adams said.
The trooper wasn't only thankful to the passerby, but also to whoever called originally 911.
“That act of calling it in could have potentially saved his life," Adams said.
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