Traffic stop saves woman’s life when quick-thinking officer sends her to the hospital

South Carolina officers were credited with saving a woman’s life after a traffic stop for a suspected DUI resulted in a tumor diagnosis.

On Dec. 2, 2022, concerned drivers reported a vehicle driving erratically in the area of Highway 17 running through Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, a suburb of Charleston. It was then, according to the Mount Pleasant Police Department (MPPD) that officers Aton and Schoonmaker were dispatched to investigate.

Further explaining the details on their Facebook page, MPPD noted that Schoonmaker had located the vehicle he saw hit a curb multiple times as the driver failed to stay in her lane. What he didn’t know as he pulled Tamara Palmer over under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol was that the stop would result in her being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

As detailed by MPPD, “Ms. Palmer did not have any indications of being impaired by alcohol or drugs. While speaking to her, the officers realized she continuously complained of a headache. The officers determined that Ms. Palmer was possibly having a medical episode and requested an ambulance.”

The driver was transported to a local hospital, but the story was far from over as it was revealed that on a follow-up visit, doctors located the brain tumor suspected to be the cause of Palmer’s headache and immediately began an eight-hour-long procedure to deal with the tumor.

According to the Mayo Clinic, while there are a number of different types of brain tumors, and Palmer’s was not specified by the report, many of the signs and symptoms are similar to that of inebriation including trouble with balance, speech problems, and trouble following simple commands.

The symptoms of cancerous brain tumors worsen quickly compared to noncancerous ones which could take months or years to worsen, and treatment could involve surgery or various types of therapy to attack the tumor.

On Feb. 19, Palmer reached out to the officers of MPPD to alert them of the outcome of their observant traffic stop and expressed “that these officers absolutely saved her life.”

“Without their quick analysis of the situation, the outcome could have ended differently,” the department noted on its social media account which featured a picture of Palmer from the bodycam footage of the officers on the day of the traffic stop as well as her smiling with MPPD Chief Arnold after thanking his officers for saving her life.

Palmer was not the only one to praise the work of the MPPD as reactions to their post was filled with gratitude for their involvement in helping the woman, with one person even reporting they “had the same incident in Massachusetts” that led to a “successful brain surgery.”

“Great skills on handling this medical emergency,” another wrote. “More officers should have the awareness to consider a medical emergency, rather than thinking someone is under the influence first.”


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