Colorado man makes ‘miracle’ recovery from heart attack after strangers perform CPR

ROUTT COUNTY, Colo. – Three men from Routt County are sharing their story in the hope that it will help save lives.

On July 23, building contractor Brian Boos, JDW, Inc. service repair supervisor Darren Ebaugh and FerrelGas technician Shawn Kainz were all called to a home in rural Oak Creek to fix a family’s furnace. The three men say they have crossed paths on job sites before but were essentially strangers. They didn’t even know each other's names.

“Everything was meant to be. It was one of those days. One of those moments that everything was meant to be,” Boos told FOX31.

Upon arriving to the job site, Kainz began complaining of chest pains. He told Boos and Ebaugh that he planned to see a doctor after finishing the work on the furnace regulator.

“I felt like I had heartburn. That’s all I remember,” Kainz said.

Ebaugh was putting his tools in his truck while Boos and Kainz stood together outside the home. That’s when Kainz collapsed.

“He didn’t grab his chest. He didn’t say, ‘Oh no.’ He just turned and [fell],” Boos said.

Boos attempted to call 911 and despite having an extremely weak signal in the rural area, he was able to connect with emergency dispatch. They helped talk Ebaugh and Boos through nearly 15 minutes of CPR until paramedics arrived.

“Just looking at his eyes, his eyes were glazed over. From being a hunter, I’ve seen it a lot and I knew what it meant. He was gone,” Ebaugh said.

“For sure there was no life,” Boos said.

The two never stopped CPR.

“The bystander CPR saved him. They kept him alive until we could get here,” Oak Creek Fire EMS supervisor Angela Bracegirdle told FOX31.

She has been with the department for 19 years. In that time, she says often bystanders will give up on CPR after about two minutes, if they even step in to help at all.

“Just keep going. Don’t stop. Because you never know,” Bracegirdle said.

Bracegirdle and her team were able to get Kainz’s heart restarted and he began breathing on his own before he was loaded into an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, she says he went into cardiac arrest again and regained a pulse after they used an AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) on him.

“It was a widow maker,” Kainz told FOX31. “It was 100-percent clogged coronary artery on the top right.”

He spent less than a week in the hospital before being released. He is now recovering and those around him say his progress is a miracle.

“Monday, [I got] the call, 'He wants to have dinner with you.' It just blew me away. I never would have imaged he survived,” Ebaugh said.

“It doesn’t look like he has a dent on his bumper. He looks like a million bucks. It’s a miracle,” Boos said.

“Yes, it is. It is. In my 19 years, I’ve only seen two walk out of the hospital,” Bracegirdle said.

Oak Creek Fire Chief Chuck Wisecup says in his 36-year career, this is the first time he has seen someone survive CPR.

“I think everyone needs to learn CPR,” Kainz said. “I think it’ll be a big awareness for everybody to learn CPR.”

Boos had taken a CPR class seven years prior. Ebaugh hadn’t taken one since he was in high school 25 years ago. They both say they now plan to be re-certified on a yearly basis.

CPR classes are offered in the Denver metro area by American Red Cross, Colorado CPR and First Aid, Colorado Cardiac CPR and many other organizations.

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