Orem football player collapses during practice, remains in coma

By Ashley Kewish  |  Posted May 17th, 2013 @ 7:28pm


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OREM — After an Orem High School football player collapsed during a spring training drill, his coach is being hailed a hero for helping save his life.

Ben Smith, a 16-year-old sophomore, was running sprints with the rest of his team when something went wrong. During the drill, Smith fell to the ground. His coach, Tyler Anderson, along with another coach, fled to Smith to hydrate him and Smith started to gasp for air.

"I couldn't feel a pulse and he was turning purple, so I started chest compression," Anderson said.

Smith then lost consciousness. Anderson acted quickly and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before Smith was transported to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Smith's brother, who also plays on the team, stayed by his side the whole time.

"I just didn't like seeing him like him that you know? Just seeing the life leaving his eyes you know?" said Jeremiah Smith.

Paramedics arrived and rushed Ben Smith to the hospital where doctors discovered a preexisting heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.


Usually only 1 to 2 percent of patients in the country make it into the hospital and do OK. Without early CPR (or) early intervention, most patients don't make it after the initial cardiac arrest.

–Dr. David Wang, a cardiac electrophysiologist


"Usually only 1 to 2 percent of patients in the country make it into the hospital and do OK," said Dr. David Wang, a cardiac electrophysiologist. "Without early CPR (or) early intervention, most patients don't make it after the initial cardiac arrest."

Ben Smith is now in a medically induced coma to allow his brain to recover from the trauma. Doctors hope to bring him out of it within the next couple of days. The next couple of days will be crucial for Ben Smith to see if there are any lasting effects from the cardiac arrest, but his doctors are remaining optimistic.

As for Anderson, he's back to coaching. Despite being credited with helping save his athlete's life, he said he doesn't feel much like a hero.

"It's one of those things you never want to be a part of," Anderson said. "I'm just glad I was prepared."

As coach in the Alpine School District, he was required to take CPR training classes. He credits that preparation in helping him save the athlete's life.

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