One afternoon, while riding his bike home from class, David Francisco Platillero was hit by an SUV as it sped through a red light. The distracted driver had not seen him turn onto the busy, four-way intersection. On impact, David’s head snapped against the hood of the car and his body hit and shattered the SUV’s windshield. He was immediately rendered unconscious; blood spurted from a deep wound on his arm while his bike lay crushed a few feet away.
Nearby, Cicily Hummer, DO ’20, pulled up to the intersection of stalled traffic. She was delivering sandwiches for her then-employer, Jimmy John’s, and she wondered what had impeded the flow of cars. As she craned her neck out of the car’s rolled down window, she heard screams and saw David crumpled on the ground, the driver of the SUV standing over him.
Dr. Hummer later recounted experiencing a “lucid moment where [I had to] pull over and stop and help.” That moment would lead her to save David’s life – months before starting her first year in medical school.
As soon as she arrived by David’s side, Dr. Hummer noticed the arterial bleed. Within seconds, David started seizing. “I looked around…and nobody really knew what to do,” she recalled. “It was kind of like a bystander effect moment,” and she worried David might bleed to death. She asked if any of the people nearby had a belt, and surprisingly, someone produced a long leather belt with holes running all the way down: “The best type of belt that you could ever have in that situation [because] you can hold it tight and almost lock it,” she explained.
Dr. Hummer slid the belt down his arm and tightened it into a tourniquet. A bystander handed her a bedsheet and she directed another onlooker to hold staunch pressure on David’s open wound. While she held his C-spine, David regained consciousness.
The police arrived shortly after and began directing traffic around them. While the paramedics loaded a very lucid David into the ambulance, Dr. Hummer wondered if she’d ever know what had happened to him. The following day, David’s father, John Platillero, stopped by her place of work to meet her. Dr. Hummer later found out that, while David was in the process of healing from the life-threatening injury Dr. Hummer had treated at the scene, the spinal injury he had sustained – a complete L1 fracture – had left him paralyzed from the waist down. He would have to learn to walk again.
“Did you guys know I was paralyzed at [the scene]?” David asked Dr. Hummer in an interview years later. “Knowing what I know now…people seize when they go into spinal shock,” she said. “I remember talking to my mom later…and saying, ‘I didn’t see his feet [move].’”
As the years went by, David and Dr. Hummer kept in touch. On the eve of Dr. Hummer’s early graduation from RVUCOM in May of 2020, David, his family, and Dr. Hummer’s loved ones organized a surprise virtual celebration for her. To commemorate the completion of her formal medical school training, they gifted Dr. Hummer with a digital stethoscope engraved with her name.
“Thank you for saving my life,” David said to Dr. Hummer during the celebration. “And thank you to all of [those] who are in the medical field. I have mad respect for you all for saving people’s lives every single day with what you do.”
After a year of intense physical therapy, David did regain mobility in his legs. With his wife by his side, David has shared his story with Ellen DeGeneres, and, as an accomplished musician, has also performed for the famed judges of American Idol. Recently, he released both a book and an album, titled “Lionheart,” about his journey of renewal and redemption after the accident. He continues to speak at schools about the dangers of distracted driving.
All of this was made possible by Dr. Hummer’s quick actions on that fateful day. As an Internal Medicine resident at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, Dr. Hummer will continue to change her patient’s lives for the better.
“We’ll never be able to thank you enough,” said David’s father at Dr. Hummer’s virtual celebration. “You’ll always be a part of our lives.”