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Henrico Police thought he was eluding, instead they had to save his life

Posted at 1:00 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 13:07:19-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico man experienced a medical emergency while driving, leading to a police chase that saved his life.

CJ Richardson recalls the night he could have lost his life.

"At one point, they said I was actually going the wrong way on the highway," he explained.

On Aug. 9, the 51-year-old diabetic was driving home from Hanover when he realized his blood sugar was getting dangerously low.

“I normally keep something sweet with me, you know, but this particular day, I didn't have anything," said Richardson. "And I was like, well, I just want to make it home."

Just a few minutes later, he was driving on the wrong side of the highway and into head-on traffic along Chamberlayne Avenue.

"That's how out of it I really was," Richardson noted. "I'm like, just driving and I'm hearing people honking their horns, and I heard a lot of stuff going on. But I was confused.”

With Hanover and Henrico police surrounding his vehicle, Richardson eventually pulled over.

“We clearly thought that the driver was trying to evade us and get away," said Henrico officer, Caroline Clements. "So, that was that was kind of our initial thoughts, but it soon became very evident that it was something else was going on."

Clements and her fellow officers were able to diagnose that Richardson wasn’t driving under any influence, but was having a medical emergency.

"Low blood sugar can mimic a lot of the DUI driver symptoms," Clements explained.

They quickly worked to get glucose in his system and called Henrico Fire to assist. Another officer brought Richardson’s sister to the scene.

“After that, I started, you know, becoming a little more aware," said Richardson.

He left the scene that Monday night unharmed and aware of the danger he could have caused had it not been for officers like Clements.

“They were there to protect and serve in a manner in which we want them to, because oftentimes, when we think of police officers, and getting stopped being a black man late at night, we don't think that it's going to end like this," Richardson explained.

"Some people see the police as being only there to take people to jail and arrest people, but we're there for more than that," noted Clements. "We're there to help the community and whatever that may mean. It doesn't matter whether you're black, white, Asian, Hispanic, we serve everyone the same."

Richardson is using his scary situation to remind other diabetics how important it is to keep sugar on them at all times.

“It's kind of embarrassing for me to share this, but not nearly as embarrassing as not helping to save a life," he expressed.

He also wanted to show his appreciation for the men and women in blue who ensured he made it home safely.

Clements explained she and her fellow officers respond to dangerous calls on a daily basis, and they aren’t always thanked or don't expect to be thanked for their work.

But she added it's the little appreciation and "thank yous" -- like this one from Richardson -- that keeps her coming back to work each day to protect this community.