Paramedic wife ‘did what I had to do’

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Much has been made of a June 2 motorcycle crash that left a Riverview firefighter hospitalized and his wife branded a hero for tending to him at the scene.

But Aurora Petrovich, a paramedic, says when she rendered aid to her husband, Troy, after his motorcycle hit a median on Southfield Freeway, she was just doing her job.

“I just did what I had to do,” Aurora Petrovich said. “I’m glad I had my training and I was able to get passed that it was my husband laying there. I turned him into just a patient.”

About 3:37 p.m. June 2, Troy Petrovich was driving his 2007 Harley Davidson motorcycle home to Lincoln Park from a party at a Detroit motorcycle club with his wife following behind to act as a “block” to other vehicles – their normal pattern – when his motorcycle hit a retaining wall.

The cause of the crash is not yet clear. Though some media outlets have reported that Troy Petrovich was speeding, his wife denies that claim, saying he was going at least 10 mph under the posted 55 mph speed limit and that he hit a bump or unknown object in the road.

According to the crash report, a search of the area turned up no debris in the road except for a construction barrel from the median that showed no signs of damage. She told police her husband had consumed one beer over the course of the evening.

“He’s been riding for 20 years,” Aurora Petrovich said. “This is something we’ve done a bazillion times. It’s a habit. Something just went wrong this time.”

Troy Petrovich also was not wearing a helmet, a “personal choice” his wife said he makes only 10 percent of the time.

But what is clear is Aurora Petrovich’s actions in the wake of the crash, rendering aid that nuerologists said prevented her husband’s head injuries from causing a permanent vegetative state. She blocked the lane with her pickup truck, called 911 and checked her husband’s responsiveness.

“I went on autopilot,” she said. “I just did what I had to do.”

As it happened, a friend of the couple, another paramedic, was passing by the scene at the time and assisted Aurora Petrovich, shaving the time between the collision and his admittance to Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center down to 15 minutes.

After a brief medical-induced coma, Troy Petrovich is now recovering after suffering symptoms reminiscent of Shaken Baby Syndrome from sliding and rolling off the median. He has road rash, broken ribs, a cheek bone fracture and punctures to his left knee, but his wife said he is doing surprisingly well.

“Amazingly enough, he went from a traumatic brain injury that typically caused a vegetative state to trying to get out of bed and being grumpy,” she said.

Several fundraisers, including one Thursday at Sherwood Brewery in Shelby Township, were organized for the family to offset expenses. Aurora Petrovich said her husband’s medical expenses will be completely covered by insurance policies they took out to cover any injuries from their riding, but the money will help support the family of seven until her husband recovers.

She is taking a leave from her job with Health Link to care for him, and the family will be without paychecks from his work as a firefighter and as a paramedic with Universal Macomb Ambulance.

Most of all, Aurora Petrovich said she is thankful for everyone who did their part to save her husband’s life, including Allen Park Police and Fire departments, Oakwood staff and her paramedic friend.

“The stars all lined up,” she said. “It was a perfect response that you wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. It happens once in a lifetime. Thankfully, it was my husband’s life.”