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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Trucker Suffers Apparent Heart Attack, Dies in Crash

September 21, 2000

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

As he lost control of his truck, John Purtteman Jr. of Sylmar attempted to avoid traffic on clogged De Soto Avenue south of the Ronald Reagan Freeway about 7:35 a.m., authorities said.

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

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

Police said Purtteman lost control of his truck, slightly clipping one car before the truck fell about 120 feet down an embankment, coming to rest upright.

Witnesses and paramedics removed Purtteman from the truck's cab, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. No one else was injured.

Ramos said there was no indication of mechanical malfunction, drugs or alcohol.

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