Spring Lake Heights, NJ (Asbury Park Press) -- Though Dan Langley had a heart attack while driving, that did not stop a police officer from giving him three
A little more than a week
after the April 1 heart attack -- which led to a minor traffic accident -- Langley, a 20-year-old Wall, New Jersey resident, received the tickets in the mail.
When he went to the Spring Lake Heights Municipal Court to fight them,
he and his family figured a doctor's note would help convince the local
prosecutor or judge to dismiss the summonses.
forgive Mr. Langley's tickets due to his unfortunate experience of
having a heart attack seconds prior to his car accident," stated the
note from Dr. Harold Cotler of Wall.
The result? Two tickets were dismissed, but a third was only downgraded... to a $133 fine.
"What's the charge? Criminal cardiac arrest?" his father, Chris Langley said in a later interview.
pleaded guilty May 16 to the lesser violation of obstructing the
passage of vehicles and paid the fine, but he and his parents say they
do not understand why the tickets were written and why they were not all
tossed out in court.
feel the system is just completely insensitive to something of this
nature," Chris Langley said. "How can you charge anyone with anything?
Something's wrong here, and it needs to be fixed. ... This could have
been any family. This could have been anyone's son."
Neither the municipal prosecutor, Colin Quinn, nor police could be reached for comment.
'It saved his life'
Cotler said physicians believe Dan Langley's heart attack began before the accident.
was headed to a friend's home in Spring Lake Heights on April 1. Around
5:45 p.m., near the intersection of Route 71 and Warren Avenue, his car
hit a Toyota at a traffic light, his family said.
does not remember the accident, but he and his parents have been told
that he got out of his car, walked toward the front of the vehicle,
vomited and collapsed.
Langley said he and his wife, Noreen, believe the accident -- and a
fast-acting police sergeant -- helped save their son's life.
The accident quickly brought emergency services to the scene. Sgt. Andrew O'Neillbegan CPR.
feel fortunate because the accident attracted immediate attention. We
feel it saved his life," said Dan's father. "We're grateful to Sgt.
O'Neill of Spring Lake Heights, because of his efforts. He started CPR.
He's humble; he says it was a group effort. ... I can't say enough about
the sergeant. He was at the scene. He went to hospital in ambulance with
room doctors at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune
quickly cooled Dan Langley's body to stave off brain damage from the
heart attack, a procedure Langley's doctor said helped save his life.
doctor agrees that the quick actions of the police sergeant, the
emergency workers who quickly transported him to Jersey Shore University
Medical Center and doctors at the Neptune hospital who cooled his body
helped save his life and saved his brain function.
was very lucky that he was seen by a fast-thinking police officer and
went to a really great hospital," said Cotler, who is also the vice
chairman of the department of family practice at Jersey Shore.
Tickets in the mail
O'Neill did not write the tickets. They were issued later by another officer, Raymond Kwiatkowski, the family said.
tickets arrived in the mail eight days later, on the same day a
defibrillator was implanted in the young man's chest, the family said.
Langley said he spoke with police after the tickets arrived in the
mail, and they indicated they would talk to the municipal prosecutor
about dismissing them.
Municipal Court, Dan Langley initially pleaded not guilty, and two of
the tickets - tailgating and unsafe operation of a motor vehicle - were
authorities would only agree to downgrade the third - from reckless
driving to obstructing the passage of other vehicles, the Langleys said.
the reckless driving ticket, which carries five points and a fine of up
to $200, the downgraded offense came with no points and a $133 fine.
No one was injured from the accident, and the other driver did not come to the court hearing, the family said.
Dan "had to plead guilty," said his mother, Noreen. "What choice did he have?"
He paid the $133 fine.
Not back to normal
Langley is the youngest of six children. There is no history of similar
heart problems in the family, and doctors still are not sure what
caused his cardiac arrest, his parents said. He spent 10 days in the
time, Dan Langley, who plays several musical instruments, was working
two jobs and finishing his last semester as a mechanical engineering
student at Brookdale Community College in the Lincroft section of
Middletown. He was set to start attending Rutgers University in the
of his medical condition he had to withdraw from school and cannot
return to work. He cannot play contact sports. He cannot swim in the
pool that has been in the family's backyard since he was a baby. He
cannot mow the lawn or use the edger.
"The doctor said he will be back to a normal life in a more reasonable time, but not now," Chris Langley said.
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