Hamilton

'It's not heroic:' Why a citizen ran into highway traffic to stop a dangerous driver

Adam Lowe is the man seen wrestling another man in the middle of the Red Hill expressway. He explains what he did and why.

Adam Lowe was captured on video wrestling with a suspected drunk driver on the Red Hill expressway

A man wrestles with a suspected drunk driver in the middle of the busy Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton on Wednesday. (Jordan Galway)

Adam Lowe says he didn't consider the danger he put himself in when he ran into Red Hill Valley Parkway traffic chasing after a suspected impaired driver who was trying to get away from a crash scene.

Lowe, 33, thought he was going to witness a fatality when the troubled man ran away from his SUV, prompting him to intervene.

He had just witnessed the man driving erratically and crash his SUV into a guardrail.

 "He ran out into moving traffic and it's a miracle nobody hit him," said Lowe.

Adam Lowe does not consider himself to be a hero after he tackled a suspected impaired driving who ran onto Red Hill Valley Parkway's busy lane, risking his own safety. (Adam Lowe)

Lowe's struggle with the suspected drunk driver in the midst of Red Hill highway traffic was captured by another motorist's dash cam video and is being widely shared on social media.

The  April 26 video shows Lowe and the other driver  wrestling in the highway's middle lane while afternoon rush-hour traffic grinds to a stop around them. He was trying to hold the driver until police arrived.

I'm just a guy that reacted to a situation, end of story.- Adam Lowe

"I think once he realized I was on the phone with 911, he realized, he was in trouble," said Lowe.

Hamilton police confirmed the incident to CBC.

A 27-year-old faces charges of failing to remain, driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, and breach of probation.

Lowe initially thought the driver could have suffered from a medical emergency, causing the swerving and eventual crash. He stopped his own car, and got out to see if he could help.

'Look, just stop'

When he approached the vehicle, Lowe said the driver continued to say how he needed to leave, how he needed to get home. At this point Lowe suspected the driver was impaired.  

"I hadn't thought of myself being in danger. I just wanted to try and make sure he didn't hurt himself or anybody else," said Lowe.

According to Lowe, he knew something was wrong when the man attempted to open surrounding car doors, banging on people's windows, asking for a ride home.  

"That's when I tackled him and said, 'look, just stop, just stop," said Lowe.

Lowe noted that although he had to detain the flustered 27-year-old man, he wasn't aggressive towards him.

"It's not heroic. Police officers, firefighters, people in the military, anybody that knowingly goes into a dangerous situation day-after-day, those are true heroes," said Lowe.

Others drove past

While many of the video's comments on Facebook criticize the drivers who didn't stop – Lowe defends them.

"It's a weird situation, there's two guys rolling around on the Red Hill. I mean who knows what you could be thinking. Are they road raging? Are they both drunk?" 

If he were to see that again, Lowe's not sure he'd get out, not knowing the situation, or who needed the help.

The officer didn't say to me you know, you should never do that, but he also wasn't praising me up and down as being a hero.- Adam Lowe

When CBC asked Hamilton police how citizens are advised in such situations, Media Relations Officer, Constable Steve Welton said attempting to intervene during a crime in progress in not encouraged.

"We recognize that the instincts of citizens often come into play in these situations and we certainly don't want to quarter back what has already transpired. But what I can say is that citizens should be mindful of their personal safety at all times," said Welton in an email.

Lowe's involvement was noted as appreciated.

"Fortunately no one involved in this incident sustained any serious injuries and the responding officers were able to make the arrest. The assistance was appreciated but we encourage calling 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency," said Welton.

Lowe shared a similar sentiment.

"The officer didn't say to me you know, you should never do that, but he also wasn't praising me up and down as being a hero."

Lowe said he didn't make it a habit of doing stuff like this.

"I'm just a guy that reacted to a situation, end of story."

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