SALEM, N.H. — Dr. Tim Chu had never needed his medical training off duty until a little girl’s life depended on it last week.
Returning home from a few Saturday morning errands, Chu answered his phone to a frantic neighbor telling him “you have to come over right away.” The “bad accident” described to him was a street over, through a wooded area.
Chu said he ran.
“I saw Giuliana on the ground and a landscaper applying pressure to her neck,” he said recently before heading to a shift in the Lawrence General Hospital Emergency Department, where he has worked for five years.
The landscaper, Scott Demers, has been publicly praised as a hero. He was working on a sprinkler system a few houses down when chaos erupted, he said.
Investigators say Dr. Scott Dowd, 37, was drunk and speeding through the neighborhood on Silver Brook Road when he crashed into house No. 16, where 5-year-old Giuliana Tutrone was playing inside.
He has since been arrested and charged with first-degree assault on a victim under 13 with serious bodily injury, aggravated driving while intoxicated with serious bodily injury and three counts of reckless conduct with a deadly weapon.
Joseph Tutrone says his little girl is home from the hospital but has a long road to recovery, including more surgery before she starts first grade in the fall.
He extends a heartfelt thank you to Chu and Demers, both strangers, for their efforts to keep his family whole.
When Chu arrived at the scene, he says Tutrone had laid his daughter in the grassy yard and Demers, with no medical training, was tending to her.
“When he pulled his hands back, I could see the severe cut and bleed,” Chu said. “He continued to apply pressure until the paramedics arrived.”
It was clear to the doctor that the situation could have taken a deadly turn.
“He saved her life,” Chu said confidently. “She had her jugular lacerated. Without quick action, that's a fatal injury.”
Tutrone, however, does not want Chu’s role underplayed. When paramedics arrived, Chu was able to save time by quickly advising that Giuliana needed to get to Boston.
The off-duty doctor stayed alongside father and daughter in the ambulance, all the way to the rooftop of LGH, where a helicopter was waiting to take them to a Boston hospital.
Chu said he had never met or heard Scott Dowd’s name before that day, despite their shared affiliation with Lawrence General Hospital. Dowd was also treated there after the crash, according to police.
Records show that Dowd lives about a mile from the scene of the crimes. He specializes in interventional spine and pain medicine, according to his profile on the LGH website.
His primary office is listed as Orthopedics Northeast, located at 323 Lowell St. in Andover. A secondary office is listed at 29 Stiles Road in Salem, New Hampshire.
He is also affiliated with Holy Family Hospital, which is part of the Steward Health Care Network.