Bay Area officer heads home from doomed vacation, performs mid-flight life-saving efforts

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019
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A 12-day, bucket-list trip to Ireland was just getting started for a Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Officer, his wife and some friends.

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- A 12-day, bucket-list trip to Ireland was just getting started for Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS) Officer Stephen Cronin, his wife and some friends.

The group landed on a Friday in early August, and by Saturday morning, they were involved in a serious accident.

"We were in rural Northern Ireland and we were involved in a traffic collision over there," Officer Cronin told ABC7 News. "We were T-boned by another car going about 60 mph."

Cronin's wife suffered a fractured pelvis and another friend suffered serious injuries.

Once doctors cleared his wife for travel, the Cronin's boarded a 10-hour flight back to the Bay Area.

The action didn't stop there.

"I heard a loud thud," Cronin described. Mid-flight, that sound was followed by pleas for medical personnel.

"I jumped out of my seat, went through the bulkhead and we found a woman that was on the ground," he explained. "She was pale white, unconscious, sweating, diaphoretic. She was lying in a pool of blood."

Cronin said the woman had fallen backward when she lost consciousness, hit her head against the bulkhead and sustained a laceration to the back of her head.

He said a retired Marin County firefighter and a Rheumatologist from Germany assisted in the life-saving effort.

Six hours into the flight, Cronin and the two others used what was available to care for the woman. They used IV bags and bandages to help the victim.

A family member who was traveling with the woman told Cronin the victim is a retired special needs teacher from Northern Ireland who was traveling to California to attend a wedding.

As the flight continued, Cronin said the woman's condition began to improve.

"We stayed with her for the full 3.5-hours," he said. "She actually landed still on the ground, laying in the middle of the aisle."

Once the plane landed, Cronin said San Francisco paramedics eventually took over care.

Sunnyvale DPS posted Cronin's story to Facebook on Monday, though he didn't ask for recognition.

"We're trained as police officers, firefighters and EMT's," Cronin said about Sunnyvale DPS. "So, the experience I've gained on this job helped me with that."

"I don't think what I did was special in any way," he continued. "This is why we got into the job, to help people."

He said he's sure anyone in his position would've responded in the same manner. Cronin has been with Sunnyvale DPS for nearly 13 years.

Cronin said this wasn't the first time his in-flight assistance was needed. On a flight back from Hawaii, he helped a young child who was suffering from a peanut allergy.

He said his wife is still in the process of recovery, though she is doing much better now.