NEWBURY — The South Boston man stricken with a heart attack while driving on Interstate 95 in Newbury Saturday morning has died, according to a state police official.

Robert Dawson, 55, was driving northbound near Exit 55 when he suffered a medical emergency around 10 a.m. Dawson's car left the right side of the highway and stopped in a section of woods.

Several civilians, including Michael Tennis of Volpone Towing in Newbury, stopped to assist Dawson.

Tennis said he pulled Dawson out of his car, brought him up to the side of the road and began CPR before veteran state police Trooper Jean Hume arrived at the scene to assist. The pair worked on Dawson for up to 10 minutes before firefighters from Rowley and Georgetown arrived. Firefighters then used a portable defibrillator unit to shock Dawson, who had been pulse-less for several minutes, until he was stabilized.

Minutes later, an ambulance transported Dawson to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, then transferred him to Portsmouth Hospital where he passed away, according to state police.

Tennis, a trained firefighter and EMT who volunteers with the Byfield Fire Department, wasn't scheduled to be working on Saturday but was asked to come in to cover a shift, his supervisor, Jean Volpone, said.

Minutes before the incident, Tennis had assisted Dawson when his car ran out of gas along the highway. After giving him enough gas to reach the nearest gas station, Tennis said he followed Dawson so he could get paid. Along the way, Dawson lost control of the vehicle, going left across all four lanes of traffic before turning the wheel and then recrossing the same four lanes.

"You could tell something was wrong; he was all over the road," Tennis said.

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