Man Awarded for Helping Save Life After I-89 Crash

WILLISTON, Vt. - They seem like they’ve been friends forever.

“James and I text each other just about every morning,” said Paul Bristol, with a smile. “We say 'good morning' and stuff like that.”

But Bristol and James Pocock are new friends, connected by courage, ingrained emergency response knowledge and a heavy dose of destiny.

Their journey together started on May 4th, 2017.

Bristol, a grandfather to six children, was driving a tractor trailer on I-89 South towards New Hampshire where he lives when he suffered a heart attack behind the wheel.

The last thing Bristol remembers before the crash is passing the Whale Tails, a Williston-area landmark, on the interstate. From there, his memory goes black until he wakes up in the hospital.

In between was a series of fateful moments performed  by everyday heroes.

Bristol’s tractor trailer collided with a guardrail on the bridge over Route 2 in Williston.

Pocock, a homeless man, was right there.

"I'm a curious person and I'm like that ‘doesn't seem right.’ I got a broken foot but I hobbled up there,” he remembered. “I went around the truck, I didn't see a driver so I climbed up and I looked in and he's hunched over."

He noticed Bristol was scraped up and breathless. Pocock says he directed a fellow passerby to call 911. Then, he says, “two big country boys” pulled up to the scene.

"I really want to give praise to those two. I don't know who they are, when I said ‘he got to come out,’ they grabbed him and he was out in less than 4 seconds,” Pocock said.

Pocock then administered CPR until paramedics arrived. The whole process took about four minutes.

Pocock says he used to be an EMT. His most recent CPR training was in the late 90’s.

As for Bristol, he spent four days in the hospital after the crash.

He and his family made the trip to the Williston fire station Wednesday to see Pocock awarded for his bravery.

“James, on behalf of the Williston Fire Department and everyone present here today, congratulations and thank you so much for your act,” said firefighter Prescott Nadeau, the Williston Fire Department’s public information officer, before he hung a medal around Pocock’s neck. “It will forever be remembered in this department."

“Not many people would do that and I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart,” said Rob Bristol, Bristol’s son, to Pocock.

The Bristol family has offered to help James in any way. So far he’s only asked for a pillow. He loves the pillow.

“Anything else you need, you've got my number. I mean it, it's the least we can do. We can never repay you for all you've done,” said Rob Bristol to Pocock.

Pocock’s one request to the Williston Fire Department was to have a firefighter in a fire engine pick his daughter up from school. They obliged.

It’s clear the affection is mutual between Pocock and Bristol.

“He has blessed me more than I have ever blessed him,” said Pocock.

“You saved his life, sir,” reminded Local 22 & Local 44’s Staci DaSilva.

“In a lot of ways, he saved mine,” he responded.

“I call him my wonder boy and he says, no, I'm the one. We've got a good relationship between the two of us,” said Paul Bristol. “It's almost like I got another chance or something. I haven't completed yet. That's the way my figuring is."

To find a CPR class through the American Red Cross, visit and enter your location.

There is a Go Fund Me account set up for those who would wish to donate to help James get a home.

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