Officials explain 'Good Samaritan' laws after fatal crash - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Officials explain 'Good Samaritan' laws after fatal crash

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

In the wake of Wednesday's fatal car crash, officials said so-called 'Good Samaritan' laws protect citizen first-responders from litigation.

The crash happened at the Highway 20 interchange on Hawkeye Road. Andrew Brown and Jeff Kool, both of Des Moines based Signal 88 Security, were just driving through town.

"We jumped into action just because we have the training," Brown, a National Guardsman, said. "We knew something bad had happened with a wreck like that, with a car and a semi moving at ... I think the speed limit is 45."

The car, driven by 84-year-old Alice Hovenga, came to rest teetering on the edge of the ditch. Kool jumped on the trunk to keep it from sliding farther.

"I was trying to get a response out of her," Brown said. "She was unconscious pretty bad, but she was breathing for a while there."

Despite their best efforts, Hovenga died from her injuries.

Officials said that's where Good Samaritan laws come in, protecting people that try to help in good faith.

"Generally, what we have is people that are trained in CPR, things like that," said Michael Moore, Waterloo Fire Battalion Chief. "Those kind of people tend to help."

However, if it's determined rescuers acted recklessly, they can be held accountable.

Both Brown and Kool have previous emergency responder training.

Moore said Good Samaritan laws serve an important purpose, because getting help in the precious minutes before medics can arrive could save a life.

"It gives that person that extra chance and that's what everyone deserves," he said.

Kool just wishes they could have done more for Hovenga.

"It's disappointing, heartbreaking really, to see a life pass away that quickly," Kool said. "But there's really nothing we could do."

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