MANASSAS, Va. - A Manassas father said it is a miracle his son is alive after the teenager went into cardiac arrest at baseball practice, but a fellow teammate of his son certified in CPR is being credited for saving his life.
Steve Smith was hit in the chest by a baseball on July 14.
“When I got to Steve, he was just unresponsive,” said Steve’s father and coach, Tim Smith. “His eyes rolled back in his head and I couldn't wake him up. So I yelled, ‘Does anybody know CPR?’”
There was only one person on the field who did – Steve’s friend and teammate, Paul Dow, who is also a lifeguard.
“When I realized he had no pulse or heartbeat, that kind of scared me for a while because I knew he was dying,” Paul said. “I felt terrible because I didn't know if he was going to be okay because he did die in my arms.”
Paul said he continued doing compressions as they waited for paramedics while he relied on his faith in God.
“There is no way in heck I did that by myself,” he said.
Steve was flown to a trauma center and his family said what happened next is almost unbelievable – he came to just two days later and was feeling just fine by the third day.
“When I woke up, one of the first things my dad said was, ‘Paul saved your life,’” Steve said.
He said he remembers getting ready for baseball practice the day of the accident, but nothing from practice itself.
“For everyone else, it seemed overwhelming. For me, it felt like a normal day," Steve described on how he felt when he woke up.
Paul was one of his first visitors. Steve said it was tough to find the right words to thank his friend.
“I still feel like I couldn't do anything to repay him,” said Steve. “I know I don't need to. He's been here for me and we have been friends and everything, but something like that is kind of hard where someone helps you that much.”
For his dad, the magnitude of what happened is more clear than for his son.
“Most people don't live from this accident, “Tim said. “Almost everyone dies from this.”
He said having Paul there that day was truly a life saver.
“I was more helpless than I felt probably in my whole life,” he said. “Because here he is, he's dying and I can't help him. To have Paul there to step up, it was incredible. It was something that I'll never forget.”
Many fire departments offer free CPR classes, including D.C. Fire and EMS. For more information on the Hands on Heart CPR Program, go to fems.dc.gov/page/hands-hearts-cpr-program. There are classes offered this week.