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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Chatsworth

Heart Attack Blamed for Trucker's Death

September 21, 2000|GREG RISLING

A 38-year-old truck driver who apparently suffered a heart attack died Wednesday morning when his big rig fell down a steep embankment, police said.

As he lost control of his truck about 7:30 a.m., John Purtteman Jr. of Sylmar attempted to avoid traffic on a clogged De Soto Avenue south of the Ronald Reagan Freeway, authorities said.

Purtteman had been talking with his wife on a cellular phone shortly before the accident and complained about feeling ill, said Los Angeles Police Officer Gil Ramos of the Valley Traffic Division. The victim, who worked for a Chatsworth trucking company, told his wife he was going to drop off the trailer at work and come home.

Worried about her husband's condition, she tried to call him back, but got no answer. Ramos said she turned on a local television news program and saw that her husband's truck had crashed. She went to the scene of the accident.

Police said Purtteman slightly clipped one car before his truck plunged about 120 feet down the embankment, coming to rest upright.

Witnesses and paramedics pulled the driver from the truck's cab, but he was in full cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. No one else was injured.

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