POMONA (CBSLA.com) — A California Highway Patrol officer came to the rescue of an 81-year-old man who suffered a heart attack on a La Verne freeway Wednesday morning.

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Officer Ruth Rodriguez of the CHP’s Baldwin Park office told CBS2’s Crystal Cruz that she was called to the southbound Foothill (210) Freeway at Fruit Street to help an unconscious and unresponsive passenger in a minivan.

The victim’s wife, who had pulled the van over to the center median, told Rodriguez her husband had a heart attack.

“I checked for a pulse on his carotid, and I didn’t get a pulse. I crawled into the minivan, I straddled him, and I started with the chest compressions,” Rodriguez said.

In her 24 years on the job, Rodriguez said, she never performed CPR.

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“Quite honestly, I was scared. I was scared,” she said.

Paramedics arrived on the scene and took the man to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.

Rodriguez didn’t know until later that her efforts helped the man.

“They told me that he was in surgery. I was shocked. I’m like, he’s alive? They told me, ‘Yes, he arrived with a pulse.’ I was elated. I was just overjoyed,” she said.

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The man’s family didn’t want to appear on-camera, but said the situation is still very dire, Cruz reported.