Man diagnosed with sleep apnea after blacking out behind wheel of vehicle

Sleep apnea Increases risk of collision

SAN ANTONIO – Sleep apnea is not just hard on your health. The disorder can also impact the safety of others.

Dr. Suhaib Haq, the medical director for the University East Side clinic, says, "the chances of getting into an accident are 15 times higher in a patient that has moderate sleep apnea."

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Haq's medical assistant, Joe Carrasco, learned he had sleep apnea following his own accident.

Before working in the clinic, Carrasco said he remembers working at the San Miguel Lignite mine south of San Antonio near Christine, Texas. 

"They have lignite coal," he said. "They supply coal to the power plant. That's what we would do."

Carrasco said he was behind the wheel of a Caterpiller 777 when the accident happened. The massive dump truck can haul 100 tons of debris. 

"On the way going back to get loaded up again, I blacked out. I went through a ditch. I thought I flipped over the truck," Carrasco said. 

The truck did not flip over, but pictures show there was some destruction. In one photo, you can see where the truck ran off its indented path. Tire marks can be seen in on a grassy lot. Another photo shows a concrete manhole cover was crushed. Carrasco said he woke up in time to stop the massive machine from hitting a mound of earth. 

No one was hurt.

After telling his supervisor, Carrasco underwent a sleep study and learned he had obstructive sleep apnea. He started using a CPAP and says he began feeling as if he had more energy. He also started working out and lost weight. 

Several years later, Carrasco went to school and became a medical assistant. He is now helping Dr. Haq keep patients healthy. 

"If you think you have sleep apnea, get tested," Carrasco said. 


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