High school baseball coaches save life of one of their players

Tommy Lucero

Tommy Lucero

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LOVELAND, Colo. -- A couple of coaches getting credit for not only developing young baseball talent--but saving the life of one of their players.

The Thompson Valley High School coaches jumped into action when 14-year-old Tommy Lucero's heart suddenly stopped Wednesday.

The baseball team was finishing up practice. Lucero was jogging when he collapsed in right field.

He was airlifted from McKee Medical Center in Loveland to Children's Hospital in Aurora that night.

"He's all boy. He's got a heart of gold," says Lucero's mom, Julie Kruit.

The teen also has a heart with an undiagnosed defect.

"I started running at the right field line, then after that, I just blanked out. Next thing I knew, I woke up in here," says Lucero, in his hospital bed.

"It was scary as could be," says coach Chad Raabe, about seeing Lucero lying unresponsive as his teammates, and 16-year-old brother, surrounded him.

He started CPR, while Coach Jay Denning ran inside the school for a heart defibrillator.

"Coach Denning called 911. I tried to get his vitals: pulse, respiration and had nothing," says Raabe.

He did compressions for four to six minutes, but never got a pulse. Then, an ambulance arrived and took over Lucero's care.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare for something to happen to their child and you have no control. But these coaches had control," says Kruit.

Doctors say Lucero's family owes everything to the coaches and their training.

"We know what would have happened. He would not have made it. I can't express enough gratitude that they'd taken the time to get trained," says Kruit.

The freshman now prepares for open heart surgery to repair a rare abnormality that doesn't present symptoms until a child is a teen while exercising.

"I can't even put into words how grateful I am for them knowing what to do for me and saving my life like that," he says.

His coaches have taught him a lot about baseball.

And they've taught his mom the importance of CPR.

"All of us can make a difference. You never know when you're going to need that training," says Kruit.

The teen won't be pitching or catching baseballs for a while--so he admires a baseball the entire team signed for him instead.

"It means a lot that they're always there for me as a team. They'll always be there for me," says Lucero.

On the field and off.

Lucero has open heart surgery Monday--which his mom says will give him the ability to live a normal life.

He's hoping he can get back with the team before the season is over. Their first game is next week.

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