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PLAIN CITY, Weber County — A Plain City teen is being credited with saving his father's life after the man collapsed while exercising on the Fremont High School track earlier this month.
Jeff Boothe, 40, said he almost set out to do sprints by himself, but at the last minute asked his 17-year-old son Colby to video him running down the track so that he could check his form. That is what he believes really made the difference. Seconds after Coby stopped recording is when Jeff Boothe collapsed.
“I got to the end of this straightaway and felt funny and out of breath, and I knew my heart had gone into a weird rhythm,” Jeff Boothe said.
He was born with a heart defect, but this was unusual.
“I was losing strength really quick, so I just leaned over for a second," he said. "I could feel myself just losing strength, so I kneeled down on the track and called out to him and blacked out.”
The teen, who was checking the video on his phone, heard his dad call out his name.
“At first, I just thought he was just out of breath and maybe needs help to the bleachers, and I ran over and he wasn’t responsive,” he said.
Colby then went into panic mode.
“I booked it back to the phone and called 911 and ran back and started CPR; well the best CPR I could,” the 17-year-old said.
He only had a couple of basic CPR courses through school and Boy Scouts, but Colby said he remembered enough to get him through it with a 911 dispatcher's help.
“What felt like an eternity later, the paramedics got there and took over,” he said.
Paramedics made it there five to seven minutes later and were able to revive Jeff Boothe.
“It does kind of feel like it was just a dream and stuff, and it’s a little hard to remember, and it just happened so fast and so slow at the same time,” Colby said.
The next thing Jeff Boothe remembered was being rolled onto his side and placed on a backboard.
“I couldn’t talk. I was out of breath, breathing really hard. I remember hearing the noise and the lights. I remembered what happened with me blacking out and everything, so I knew I was being loaded into an ambulance,” he said.
He was shocked several times with a defibrillator while on the way to the hospital. He also remembers hearing the paramedics say several times that a bystander had performed CPR for five to seven minutes.
“I didn’t learn until after things calmed down in the ER that it was actually my son Colby that performed the CPR," he said. “So that was a … that was an interesting moment, surreal moment. It took a while for that to sink in.”
Boothe was taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent open-heart surgery. But he’s not out of the woods yet.
“My heart actually works opposite of other people's heart,” he said. “My right ventricle of my heart is pushing blood throughout my whole body, and the left ventricle is pushing the blood into the lungs for oxygen, which is backward.”
He had surgery as a child and has had palpitations and fibrillations because of the scarring on his heart from that surgery, he said.
His condition has caused many of dizzy spells, he said, but he's never blacked out before. He had a pacemaker put in earlier this year, but it wasn’t hooked up to a certain part of his heart.
“When we were in the hospital, they took the old pacemaker out and now I have an upgraded pacemaker,” Jeff Boothe said. He also has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, just in case something like this happens again.
He said he was told if this measure doesn’t work and his heart continues to deteriorate, he will probably need a heart transplant. He said he’s just happy his son was with him to give him a chance.
The father of four said he’s unable to work and more surgeries are possible down the road. He also said medical bills are piling up. Anyone wishing to help can do so by going to the Support Jeff Boothe and Family GoFundMe page*.
“(I’m) just grateful that Colby was with me that night,” he said.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.